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) From the Income of 
the Becjuest of 
WALTER W. jj 
NAUMBURG'89 




Harvard College Library 







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Digitized by VjOOQIC 



DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 
SYLVIE — EMILIE — OCTAVIE 



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THE SEA GULL LIBRARY 
Edited by O. F. THEIS 



VOL. I.— ROMANCE OF THE 
RABBIT. By Francis Jammes. 

Authorized translation by Gladys 
Edgerton. 

VOL. IL— MOGENS and OTHER 
STORIES. By Jens Peter 
Jacobsen. 
Translated from the Danish by 

Anna Grabow. 

VOL. III.— THE SHEPHERD'S 

PIPE. By Arthur Schnitzlbr. 

Authorizedtranslaiion by 0. F. Theis. 

VOL. IV. — DAUGHTERS OF 
FIRE. By Gerard db Nerval. 

Translated from the French by 
James WhitaU. 

OTHER VOLUMES IN PREPARATION 



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DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

SYLVIE— EMILIE— OCTAVIE 

By 
GERARD DE NERVAL 

Translated from the French 

By 

JAMES WHITALL 




NICHOLAS L. BROWN 

NEW YORK MCMXXII 



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Copyright, 1922 

BY 

NICHOLAS L. BROWN 



HKH3.n. ?5~ 




AU rights reserved 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



CONTENTS 

Page 
Introduction 7 

Sylvie 17 

Ebuleb 83 

Octavib 125 



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INTRODUCTION 

The writings of G&rard de Nerval (1808- 
1855) are seldom found upon the bookshelves 
of the present-day reader, and it is a pity that 
this should be so when one considers the impor- 
tance of his place in French literature. His 
greatest achievements are Les Filles du Feu, 
Le Rive et la Vie, and the sonnets, of which El 
Desdichado, Arthbnise and Myrtho are the best 
known, and their profound influence upon 
the poetry of France is now admitted by the 
best critics of that country. It may be that 
the writer of them died in ignorance of what 
he had done, but, according to Arthur Symons, 
it is unquestionably a fact that he discov- 
ered "one of the foundations of what may 
be called the practical aesthetics of Symbol- 
ism." Mallarm6 and Verlaine followed him 
and there is evidence to be found in the works 
of both of these poets that the glimmering 
torch of this man, who could himself see into 
the darkness, had preceded them like a will-o'- 
the-wisp. Gerard's whole life was a web of 

7 



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8 INTRODUCTION 

dreams and realities, and indeed his contem- 
poraries, the Romantics, saw more of the vision- 
ary than of the man of letters in him. His 
discreet voice was scarcely heard then, for his 
words fell upon ears that were unprepared, 
and he himself felt that beauty was far too 
mysterious a thing to be comprehended by the 
crowd. Gerard's dreams, as he says, over- 
flowed into his real life, and it was not during 
his periods of sanity but in those of madness 
that he produced his finest work. 

He wandered the streets of Paris, travelled 
to the East, and made several visits to Ger- 
many. His resting places were asylums, police 
stations, and rooms shared with eccentric 
friends, and the tragedy with which he ended 
his life occurred in the rue de la Vieille Lanterne, 
where his body was found one morning sus- 
pended from an iron railing. He had been 
carrying about with him an apron string, which 
he thought was the garter of the Queen of 
Sheba, and it was with this that he hanged 
himself. Gfrard's friends' eccentricities were 
carefully thought out, but he himself did not 
pose and the incident in the Patais~Roy<d was 
simply the beginning of one of his attacks of 
madness; he was found leading a lobster by a 



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INTRODUCTION 9 

blue ribbon, because, he said, "it does not 
bark and knows the secrets of the sea. " 

It is a delightful experience to read a piece of 
Gerard's prose, not only because it flows in 
such a pleasing rhythm, but because it is always 
an unconscious revelation rather than a studied 
exposition of his emotions;. and the voice that 
was lost in the lyrical tumult of his time now 
rises from his pages with a penetrating sweet- 
ness which those of his contemporaries did not 
possess. To attempt a translation of three 
stories from Les FiUes du Feu requires a certain 
amount of courage, especially in the case of 
Sylvie, and the mere thought of such a thing 
may distress those who are familiar with that 
delicate tissue of youthful memories. But 
from the moment of my first reading this 
labor became inevitable, and if I have pre- 
served in the pages that follow even a few 
faintly heard echoes of that rare music, I shall 
feel that my time has not been ill spent, and 
that no one can accuse me of unfaithfulness. 
My hopes of presenting to my readers as cap- 
tivating a Sylvie as Gfrard's soon faded away, 
and I have often turned from my table in de- 
spair, allowing my thoughts to be carried off 
in the gentle current of his phrases to a time 



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10 INTRODUCTION 

almost a hundred years ago when the little 
Parisian first gazed upon Adrienne, or perhaps 
one should say, when his mind became pos- 
sessed by the vision he had of her. 

Sylvie was written during those tense fever- 
ish months, just before Gerard's death, when 
his genius was' at its highest mark; he undoubt- 
edly realized that darkness might come down 
upon him again at any moment, and that he 
had only a limited time in which to accomplish 
what he must have known would be his master- 
piece, and he succeeded in giving us not only 
his masterpiece, but also the key to his way- 
ward fantastic existence. 

The appearance — or it may have been only 
the vision — of Adrienne, that first unforgetable 
moment when the bewitchment of Poetry and 
Love fell upon him, was the divine experience 
of Gerard's youth, and to return to his beloved 
Valois while engaged in writing Sylvie was to 
return to Adrienne. The greater part of the 
story is concerned with Sylvie, but that other 
almost symbolic figure lurks behind every 
phrase, and the actress Amelia (Jenny Colon), 
in whom Gerard thought he saw a resemblance 
to his Ideal, strikes the minor note for his 
opening pages and for his conclusion. 



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INTRODUCTION 11 

I have said that Sylvie gives the key to its 
author's existence, and there may be a desire 
on the part of some to know to what extent the 
story is autobiographical; but this curiosity, if 
it is felt, can only be partially satisfied. It is 
fairly certain that there is no pure invention 
in it, but we must remember that Sylvie is a 
poet's presentment of the episodes of his youth, 
and that the intervening years may have con- 
fused the outlines of the silhouettes cast by 
these events upon his memory. One of his 
biographers, Aristide Marie, says: "It is all 
done with miraculous art, in the purest and 
most musical language — an unrestrained rev- 
elation of his divine soul. The melody flows 
smoothly, undisturbed by sharp accents, and 
one is only conscious of an imperceptible note 
of sorrow, saddening here and there this swan- 
song, and tinging with ineffable melancholy 
the poet's last smile at the beauty of this 
world." 

Sylvie and Octavie are both in great part 
autobiographical, and they are both examples 
of Gerard's finest manner. Emilie makes 
quite a different appeal and it proves him to be 
a story-teller as well as a composer of word- 
music. In all three stories we are conscious of 



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12 INTRODUCTION 

a slight chronological confusion; Gerard often 
seems to have difficulty in dealing with time 
and place, but it must be borne in mind that 
his eyes were almost continually fixed upon 
the unknown; the past and the future were 
always with him, and it was only through con- 
tact with normal people that he was able to lay 
hold upon the present. During his moments 
of sanity he was always peering out of the real 
world into the darkness which so frequently 
enveloped him. Sleep was possible only during 
the day, and at night he wandered the streets, 
his restless feet in constant motion. Perhaps 
he thought the wanderings of his mind could 
be checked in this fashion. 

he Rive el la Vie, his last work, was written 
when he was considered by the world in general 
to be actually mad, and it is a narrative of 
madness from the pen of the madman himself. 
The concluding fragments of it were found in 
his pockets after his death, written upon 
crumpled bits of paper, and interspersed with 
cabalistic signs and strange geometrical dem- 
onstrations. Th6ophile Gautier finds in it, 
"cold reason seated by the bedside of hot fever, 
hallucination analyzing itself by a supreme 
philosophic effort." 



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INTRODUCTION 13 

Jenny Colon, the actress who was the object 
of Gerard's sane adoration, had died, and her 
spirit was his constant companion till the end 
of his life. When the fact of her death pene- 
trated his confused mind, he said in a letter to 
a friend, "I am now certain of the existence of 
another world where lovers meet. She is much 
more mine in death than she was in life. " Le 
Bfoe et la Vie is the record of his communion 
with the spirit of Jenny Colon, and to read it 
is to realize that from the moment of her death 
G&rard's pilgrimages into the world of darkness 
behind the stars were more than vague wander- 
ings; there was a new figure in his country of 
dreams, frequently caught sight of, but always, 
as he says, "as though lit up by a lightning- 
flash, pale and dying, hurried away by dark 
horsemen. " 

On that evening of mist and moonlight in 
Gerard's childhood, Adrienne floated in and 
out of his vision, and all his subsequent loves, 
whether of this world or not — Jenny Colon, or 
Sylvie, or Isis, or the Queen of Sheba — were 
merely reincarnations. Adrienne remained the 
supreme inspiration of his life: the divine 
spectre of ever-changing form who led him 
through the fatal labyrinth of madness. He 



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14 INTRODUCTION 

listened to the "secret voices of Nature," and, 
though a captive upon earth, "held conversa- 
tion with the starry choir." His eyes rested 
upon strange things, strange music fell upon his 
ears, and there were times when he was blinded 
by the light that flowed in upon him from 
behind the world, but he was able to set down 
upon paper the materializations of the sights 
and sounds that came to him. And he it was 
who first divined that words could be used 
symbolically, that they might be made directly 
to suggest beauty, not simply its reflection or 
its praise, but beauty itself, intangible and 
mysterious. 

J. W. 



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SYLVIE 



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SYLVIE 

I 
Leisure Nights 

I LEFT the theatre where I sat every evening 
in a stage box, dressed with the elegance 
and care befitting my hopes. Sometimes 
the house was full, and sometimes empty, but 
it mattered little to me whether my eyes rested 
upon thirty or forty deadheads in the pit and 
upon boxes filled with old-time caps and 
dresses, or whether I found myself part of an 
enthusiastic audience, crowding every tier with 
color and the gleam of jewels. The stage 
awakened my interest no more than did the 
house, except, during the second and third 
scene of the tiresome play, when a vivid ap- 
pearance illuminated the empty spaces, and, 
with a breath and a word, summoned the 
shadowy figures of the actors back to life. 

I felt that I lived in her, and that she lived 

only for me. Her smile filled me with infinite 

contentment, and the resonance of her voice, 

now soft, now vibrating with emotion, made 

17 



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18 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

me tremble with joy and love. She under- 
stood all my enthusiasms and whims ; for me she 
possessed every perfection — radiant as the day, 
when the footlights shone upon her from below, 
pale as the night, when the footlights were 
turned down and the rays of the chandelier 
showed her simple beauty against a curtain of 
shadows, like one of the divine Hours carved 
on the sombre background of the frescoes of 
Herculaneuin. 

For a year it had not entered my mind to 
find out what her life away from the theatre 
might be, and I was loth to disturb the magic 
mirror that held her image. I may have lis- 
tened to idle speculations about her private 
life, but my interest in it was no greater than in 
the prevailing rumors about the Princess of 
Elis or the Queen of Trebizond, for one of my 
uncles who had lived in the eighteenth century 
had warned me in good time that an actress 
was not a woman and that Nature had forgot- 
ten to give her a heart. Of course he meant 
those of his own time, but he recounted so 
many of his illusions and his deceptions, and he 
showed me so many portraits on ivory — charm- 
ing medallions which now adorned his snuff- 
boxes — so many faded letters and ribbons, each 



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SYLVIE 19 

the token of a disappointment, that I had fallen 
into the habit of mistrusting them all. 

We were in the midst of strange years then, 
years like those that generally follow a revo- 
lution or the decline of a great empire. There 
was none of the noble gallantry of the Fronde, 
the polite vice of the Regency, or the skepti- 
cism and mad orgies of the Directorate; we 
lived in a confusion of activity, hesitation and 
indolence, of dazzling Utopias, of philosophical 
or religious aspirations, of vague enthusiasms 
mingled with certain impulses towards a re- 
newal of life, of weariness at the thought of 
past discord, of unformulated hopes — it was 
something like the epochs of Peregrinus and 
Apuleius. We looked for new birth from the 
bouquet of roses that the beautiful Isis should 
bring us; and at night the young and pure 
goddess appeared, and we were stricken with 
shame for the daylight hours we wasted. But 
ambition had no part in our life, for the greedy 
race for position and honors had closed to us 
all the possible paths to activity. Our only 
refuge from the multitude was that Ivory 
Tower of the poets which we were always 
climbing higher and higher. Upon these 
heights whither our masters led us, we breathed 



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20 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

at last the pure air of solitude, we drank forget- 
fulness from the golden cup of legend, and we 
were intoxicated with poetry and love. Love, 
alas! vague figures, tinges of blue and rose, 
spectral abstractions! Intimacies with women 
offended our ingenuousness, and it was our 
rule to look upon them as Goddesses or Queens, 
and above all never to approach them. 

But there were some of our number never- 
theless who thought little of these platonic 
sublimities, and sometimes amid our dreams 
borrowed from Alexandria they shook the 
smoldering torch of subterranean gods, and 
sent a trail of sparks through the darkness. 
Thus on leaving the theatre, my soul full of the 
sadness of a fading vision, I was glad to avail 
myself of the society of a club where many were 
supping and where melancholy yielded to the 
unfailing warmth of certain brilliant spirits 
whose ardor and passion often rendered them 
sublime — such people as one always meets 
during periods of renovation or decadence — 
people whose discussions often reached a point 
where the more timid amongst us would go to 
the windows to make certain that the Huns, 
or the Turkomanians, or the Cossacks, had not 
arrived at last to put an end to rhetoric and 



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SYLVIE 21 

sophism. "Let us drink, let us love, that is 
wisdom!" was the only opinion of the youths 
among them, and it was one of these who said 
tome: 

"I've been meeting you in the same theatre 
now for a long time, I always find you there. 
For whom do you go?" For whom? ... It 
had never occurred to me that one could go 
there for another. However, I mentioned a 
name. 

" Well, " said my friend, indulgently, " there's 
the happy man who has just taken her home 
and who, faithful to the laws of our club, will 
probably not see her again until to-morrow 
morning. " 

Without showing too much interest, I turned 
and saw a young man of the world, faultlessly 
attired, with a pale, expectant face and eyes 
full of a gentle sadness. He was sitting at a 
whist-table, where he threw down his gold and 
lost it heedlessly. 

"What does he matter to me?" I said, "or 
any other? There had to be some one, and he 
seems worthy of her choice. " 

"And you?" 

"Me? I'm following a likeness, nothing 
more," 



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22 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

I went out through the reading-room and 
instinctively picked up a newspaper; I think I 
wanted to see how the market was going, for 
after the wreck of my fortune there remained 
a considerable sum in foreign shares, and a 
rumor was afloat that the property was at last 
going to amount to something. A ministry 
had just fallen and the quotation was very 
high; I was rich once more. 

Only one thought arose out of this turn in 
my affairs: the woman I had loved for so long 
was mine for the asking; my ideal was within 
reach. Surely I was deluding myself with a 
mocking misprint? But all the newspapers 
contained the same quotation, and my winnings 
rose up before me like the golden statue of 
Moloch. What would that young man say 
now, I wondered, if I were to take possession 
of the woman he had forsaken? ... I trembled 
at the thought and then my pride asserted 
itself. No! at my age one does not put an end 
to love with money; I will not be a seducer. 
After all, the times have changed, and how do 
I know she is mercenary? 

My eyes ran vaguely over the newspaper I 
was still holding, and I read these two lines: 
"F2fe du Bouquet Provincial. To-morrow the 



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SYLVIE 23 

archers of Senlis will present the bouquet to 
those of Loisy." These simple words awakened 
in me an entirely new train of thought; memo- 
ries of the province forgotten long ago, distant 
echoes of the care-free festivals of youth. The 
horn and the drum sounded far away in the 
hamlets and in the forests; maidens were weav- 
ing garlands, and they sang as they sorted out 
the bouquets tied with ribbons. A heavy 
wagon drawn by oxen passed by to receive 
these gifts, and we, the children of the country, 
took our places in the procession, knights by 
virtue of our bows and arrows, unaware then 
that we were but repeating through the years a 
druidic festival that would outlive monarchies 
and new religions. 



II 
Adrienne 

I WENT to bed but found no rest; and as I 
lay there between sleeping and waking, 
memories of my childhood thronged about 
me. In this state, where the mind still resists 
the fantastic combinations of dreams, the im- 



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24 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

portant happenings of a long period of one's 
life often crowd themselves into a few moments. 

The picture rose up in my mind of a chateau 
of the time of Henry IV, with its pointed slate 
roofs, its reddish front and yellowed stone- 
work, and its wide enclosure edged by elms and 
lindens whose foliage scattered golden shafts 
from the setting sun upon the smooth green 
surface. Maidens danced in a ring on the grass, 
and they sang the old melodies, handed down 
to them by their mothers, with an accent so un- 
affectedly pure that one seemed to be actually 
living in that old Valois country where the heart 
of France beat for more than a thousand years. 

I was the only boy at this dance and I had 
taken Sylvie with me, a little girl from the next 
hamlet. She was so alive and so fresh, with 
her black eyes, her clearly cut profile and deli- 
cately tanned complexion! . . . I loved no one 
but her, I had eyes for no one else — until then! 
. . . I saw a tall and beautiful light-haired girl 
in the ring where we were dancing, one whom 
they called Adrienne. All at once, by the rules 
of the dance, we found ourselves along in the 
middle of the ring. We were of the same 
height; we were told to kiss each other, and the 
dancing and singing became livelier than ever. 



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SYLVIE 25 

... I pressed her hand when I kissed her, and I 
felt the light touch of long golden ringlets upon 
my cheeks. From that moment a strange 
uneasiness took possession of me. 

Adrienne had to sing that she might have 
the right to rejoin the dance. We sat in a circle 
about her and she began at once in the clear 
and delicately modulated voice peculiar to the 
young girls of that misty country. Her song 
was one of those old-time ballads, full of pas- 
sionate sadness, that always tell of the misfor- 
tunes of a princess imprisoned in her tower for 
having loved. At the end of each stanza the 
melody passed into one of those quivering 
trills that young voices can make so much of, 
when, by means of a restrained shudder, they 
simulate the trembling voices of their grand- 
mothers. 

Twilight came down from the great trees 
around us as the song drew to a close, and the 
light of the rising moon fell upon her, alone in 
the midst of our listening circle; then she 
stopped and none of us dared to break the 
silence. A faint white mist spread itself over 
the lawn and rested upon the tips of the grass, 
and we thought ourselves in Paradise. ... At 
last I got up and ran to where there were some 



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26 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

laurels planted in tall earthenware vases, and 
brought back two branches which had been 
woven into a crown and tied with ribbon. I 
placed this ornament upon Adrienne's head, 
and its shiny foliage caught the pale gleam of 
the moon. She was like Dante's Beatrice 
smiling at him as he wandered on the borders 
of Heaven. 

Then she got up, and making us a graceful 
curtsy, which showed us her slender figure, she 
ran across the lawn into the chateau. They 
said she was the granddaughter of one of the 
descendants of a family related to the ancient 
kings of France; the blood of the Valois ran in 
her veins. For this day of festivities she had 
been allowed to join in our games, but we were 
not to see her again, for she was returning the 
following morning to her convent school. 

Sylvie was crying when I returned to her, 
and I found that the reason for her tears was 
the crown I had given to Adrienne. I offered 
to get her another but she refused, saying she 
was unworthy of it. I tried to defend myself, 
but she did not speak to me again that evening. 

When I returned to Paris to continue my 
studies, my mind was divided between a tender 
friendship that had come to an end, and a 



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SYLVIE 27 

vague, impossible love enveloping me with 
painful thoughts which a schoolboy's philos- 
ophy was powerless to disperse. 

But Adrienne triumphed in the end — a 
mirage of beauty and nobility, that lightened 
or shared the severity of my studies. During 
the next summer's holiday I learned that, in 
obedience to her family's wishes, she had 
entered a convent. 



Ill 
Resolution 

EVERYTHING was made clear to me by 
this half-dreamed memory. This un- 
reasonable and hopeless love I had con- 
ceived for an actress, that took possession of 
me every evening at the time of the play, only 
to set me free at bedtime, had its origin in the 
memory of Adrienne, a flower of the night that 
opened to the pale moon, a youthful apparition, 
half-bathed in mist, gliding across the grass. 
The almost-forgotten features were now singu- 



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28 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

larly clear, and it was as though a pencil sketch, 
dimmed by time, had become a painting; first 
the master's rough study and then the splendid 
finished picture. 

To love a nun in the guise of an actress! And 
what if they were one and the same! That 
possibility leads to madness, but it is an inev- 
itable impulse — the unknown beckons like the 
will-o'-the-wisp fading through the rushes in a 
still pool. — But we must cling to realities. 

Why have I forgotten Sylvie for so long, 

Sylvie whom I loved so well? She was such a 

pretty little girl, much the prettiest in Loisy. 

Surely she is still there, as innocent and as 

good as she was then. I can see her window 

now, framed by creepers and roses, and the cage 

of warblers hanging on the left; I can hear her 

whirring spindle and she is singing her favorite 

song: 

La belle etait assise 

Prts du ruisseau coulant. . . 

She is still waiting for me. Who would have 
married her? She is so poor! There were only 
peasants in Loisy and the neighboring hamlets, 
rough fellows with toil-worn hands and thin, 
sunburnt faces, so when I came to visit my 
uncle who lived near by, she loved me, a little 



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SYLVIE 29 

Parisian. My poor uncle is dead now and for 
the last three years I have been lavishly spend- 
ing the modest legacy he left me, and it might 
have been enough for the rest of my life. With 
Sylvie I would have saved it, and now Chance 
brings to my mind this opportunity before it 
is too late. 

What is she doing at this moment? She is 
asleep — no, she cannot be, for to-day is the 
Festival of the Bow, the only one of the year 
when they dance the night through. . . . She 
is at the dance. 

What time is it now? 

I had no watch, and my gaze wandered over 
the extravagant collection of furniture with 
which an old-fashioned apartment is usually 
given its proper atmosphere. My Renaissance 
clock of tortoise-shell surpassed all the other 
objects with its quiet richness. A gilded dome, 
surmounted by the figure of Time, is supported 
by caryatids of the Medici period upon half- 
rampant horses, and Diana, leaning upon her 
stag, is in bas-relief beneath a dial inlaid with 
enameled figures of the hours. But I did not 
buy this clock in Touraine that I might know 
the time, and, though an excellent one, it has 
probably not been wound up for two centuries. 



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30 ' DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

I went downstairs, saying to myself that I 
could get to Loisy in four hours. The porter's 
clock struck one as I passed out into the Place 
du Palais-Royal, where there were still four or 
five cabs waiting, no doubt, for fares from the 
clubs and gambling houses. I mentioned my 
destination to the nearest one. 

"And where is that?" he asked. 

"Near Senlis, about twenty miles." 

" I will take you to the post-house, " said the 
cabman, less absorbed than I. 

How dreary the Flanders road is at night, 
until it enters the forest! Always the double 
rows of trees, monotonous and vague in the 
mist; meadows and ploughed land to right and 
left, with the gray hills of Montmorency, 
Ecouen and Luzarches beyond. And then 
comes the dreary market town of Gonesse with 
its memories of the League and the Fronde, 
but, beyond Louvres, there is a short cut to the 
villages where I have often seen apple blossoms 
shining through the darkness like stars of the 
earth. While my carriage slowly ascends the 
hill, T et me try to call those happy days to life. 



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SYLVIE 31 

IV 
To the Island op Venus 

SEVERAL years had passed, and already 
my meeting with Adrienne in front of the 
chateau was no more than a memory of 
youth. I had happened to be at Loisy on the 
patron saint's day and took my accustomed 
place among the Knights of the Bow. Some 
young people from the dilapidated chateaux 
in the neighboring forests had arranged the 
festival, and from Chantilly, Compi&gne and 
Senlis joyous companies came trooping to join 
the rural cavalcade. After the long walk 
through towns and villages, and when mass 
was over and the prizes for the sports had been 
awarded, a banquet for the prize-winners was 
held on an island, covered with poplars and 
lindens, in one of the lakes fed by the Nonette 
and the Thfrve. Barges adorned with flowers 
carried us to this island, chosen for its oval 
temple which was to serve as banqueting hall. 
There are many of those delicate structures 
thereabouts, built by rich philosophers to- 
wards the end of the eighteenth century. I 
think this temple must have been originally 
dedicated to Urania. Three of the pillars had 



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32 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

fallen, carrying a part of the architrave with 
them, but the fragments had been cleared away 
and garlands were hung between the remaining 
pillars; such was the restoration of this modern 
ruin, for which the paganism of Boufflers or 
Chaulieu was responsible rather than that of 
Horace. 

It may be that the crossing of the lake had 
been devised to call up the memory of Wat- 
teau's Voyage a Cy there, and the illusion was 
complete but for our modern costumes. The 
great bouquet of the festival had been taken 
from the wagon that carried it and was placed 
in one of the largest barges, the customary 
escort of little girls in white dresses took seats 
around it, and this graceful procession, re- 
created from that of another day, was mirrored 
in the calm waters that lay between it and the 
island. The thickets of thorn, the colonnade 
and the brilliant foliage, glowed red in the 
afternoon sun, and when all the barges had 
landed and the bouquet had been carried cere- 
moniously to the centre of the table, we took 
our places, the more fortunate of the boys sit- 
ting next to the girls. To obtain this favor it 
was only necessary to be known to their fami- 
lies, and I managed to sit by Sylvie, for her 



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SYLVIE 33 

brother and I had been together in the pro- 
cession. He reproached me for never coming 
to see them and I spoke of my studies which 
kept me in Paris, assuring him that this time 
I had come especially to pay them a visit. 

"No, he's forgotten me," Sylvie said. 
"We're village people and Paris is so far above 
us!" 

I wanted to close her mouth with a kiss, but 
she kept on pouting until her brother inter- 
vened and she offered me her cheek in a very 
half-hearted fashion. It was the sort of kiss 
she had often given to others and I did not 
enjoy it, for in that old country, where one 
speaks to everybody, a kiss is no more than a 
politeness among well-mannered people. 

The directors of the festival had arranged 
a surprise for us, and when the banquet was 
over, a wild swan rose up out of the depths of 
the basket where it had been confined beneath 
the flowers. Wreaths and garlands were lifted 
upon its strong wings and they fell all about us, 
and each boy took possession of one of them for 
the adornment of his companion's brow, while 
the swan took joyous flight towards the glow 
of the sinking sun. It was my good fortune to 
get one of the finest of these wreaths, and this 



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34 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

time Sylvie was smiling when I kissed her, so 
the memory of that other day was blotted out. 
My admiration of her now was complete, for 
she had become so beautiful. She was no 
longer the little village girl whom I had scorned 
when my eyes fell upon another, taller and 
more used to the manners of the world. She 
had improved in every possible way: the sp£ll 
of her black eyes, so captivating even as a little 
child, had now become irresistible; there was a 
gleam of Attic intelligence in her smile when 
its quick light spread over her calm regular 
features — a face that might have been painted 
by an old master. With her white, well- 
rounded arms, her long delicate hands, and her 
slender figure, she was no longer the Sylvie I 
had known, and I could not help telling her 
how changed I found her, in the hope that she 
would forget my former faithlessness. 

Every circumstance was in my favor; I had 
the friendship of her brother, the atmosphere 
of the festival was alluring, and the time and 
place for this echo of a gay ceremonial of by- 
gone days had been chosen with tasteful dis- 
crimination. We escaped from the dance as 
soon as we could, that we might talk of our 
childhood, and dream together as we watched 



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SYLVIE 35 

the glow of the sun fading from the foliage and 
the still surface of the lake; and it was Sylvie's 
brother who put an end to our meditations, 
telling us the time had come to go back to 
Loisy. 



V 
The Village 

1LEFT them at the old guard house at 
Loisy, and returned to my uncle with whom 
I was staying at M ontagny. Turning from 
the road to go through the little wood between 
Loisy and Saint S — , I soon found myself fol- 
lowing the deep path that skirts the forest of 
Ermenonville, expecting every moment to 
come upon the convent walls which would 
cause me to go more than half a mile out of my 
way. Every now and then the moon was hid- 
den by clouds, and I had great difficulty in 
avoiding the gray rocks and the tufts of sweet 
heather on both sides of the way. The path 
branched neither to the right nor to the left, 
and great druidic rocks rose up out of the thick 



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36 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

forest, where the memory of the sons of Armen, 
who were killed by the Romans, is still lurking. 
From the tops of these rocks the distant lakes 
looked like mirrors set in the misty plain, but 
I could not tell which one had been the scene 
of the festival. 

The soft air was laden with the perfume of 
the wood, and I decided to go no farther, but 
to sleep till morning on a bed of sweet heather. 
When I awoke, the outlines of my surroundings 
were just visible. To the left, the walls of the 
Convent of Saint S — stretched away into the 
mist, and across the valley I saw the ridge of 
the Gens-d'Armes and the jagged remains of 
the old Carlovingian dwelling. Then came 
Thiers Abbey, high above the tree tops, its 
crumbling walls, pierced by trefoils and pointed 
arches, silhouetted against the sky; and beyond, 
the moated manor of PontarmS had just caught 
the first rays of the sun. To the south rose up 
the high turret of La Tournelle, and on the 
first slopes of Montmeliant I saw the four 
towers of Bertrand-Fosse. 

My thoughts were held captive by the mem- 
ory of the day before, and I thought only of 
Sylvie. Nevertheless, the appearance of the 
convent forced the idea into my mind that 



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SYLVIE 37 

perhaps Adrienne was within. The tolling of 
the morning bell, which had undoubtedly 
awakened me, was still in my ears, and I was 
suddenly possessed by the desire to climb upon 
the highest rock that I might look into the 
enclosure, but a moment's hesitation kept me 
from this as from a profanation. With the 
fullness of daylight this futile memory vanished 
from my mind, and I saw only the pink cheeks 
of Sylvie. 

"Why not awaken her myself," I said, and 
I started off along the path that skirts the wood 
towards Loisy: twenty thatched cottages fes- 
tooned with vines and climbing roses. Some 
spinners, their hair tied in red handkerchiefs, 
were already at work, but Sylvie was not among 
them. Her people were still peasants, but 
Sylvie had become a young lady now that she 
was engaged in making fine laces. ... I went 
up to her room without shocking any one, and 
found her already at work plying her bobbins, 
which clicked gently against the green frame 
upon her knees. 

" You lazy thing, " she said, smiling adorably, 
" I believe you're only just out of bed!" 

I told her how I had passed the night, of my 
wanderings through the woods and among the 



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38 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

rocks, and she replied half indulgently, "I hope 
you're not too tired for another ramble, be- 
cause we're going to see my great-aunt at 
Othys." 

I had scarcely time to answer before she 
gleefully abandoned her work, arranged her 
hair before a mirror and put on a rough straw 
hat. Her eyes were bright with innocent pleas- 
ure as we set out, first following the banks of 
the Th&ve, then through a meadow full of 
daisies and buttercups and on into Saint-Lau- 
rent wood. Every now and then we leapt over 
streams and broke through thickets in order 
to shorten our way. Blackbirds whistled in the 
trees above us, and tomtits darted exultingly 
from the nearest bushes. 

At our feet there was periwinkle, so dear to 
Rousseau, opening its blue flowers upon sprays 
of paired leaves, and Sylvie was careful not to 
crush them, but memories of the philosopher 
of Geneva did not interest her for she was 
hunting for strawberries. I spoke to her of 
La Nouvelle Hihise and recited several passages 
I knew by heart. 

"Is it good?" she asked. 

"It is sublime!" 

"Better than Auguste Lafontaine?" 



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SYLVIE 39 

"There is more tenderness in it. " 
"Oh, well," she said, "I must read it then. 
Ill tell my brother to get it for me the next 
time he goes to Senlis. " Then I recited some 
more passages while she gathered her straw- 
berries. 



VI 
Othys 

AS WE emerged from the wood we came 
J\_ upon a great clump of purple foxglove, 
and when Sylvie had picked an armful 
of it she told me it was for her aunt. "She 
loves to have these beautiful flowers in her 
bedroom. " 

There remained only a bit of level field to 
cross before reaching Othys, and we could see 
the village steeple against the bluish hills that 
rise from Montm61iant to Dammartin. Now 
there fell upon our ears the pleasant rustling 
sound of the Theve flowing in its bed of sand- 
stone and flint. The river was narrow here, 
for its source, a tiny lake enclosed by gladioli 



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40 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

and iris, lay close by in the meadow's sleepy 
embrace. We soon came to the outskirts of the 
village where Sylvie's aunt had a little thatched 
cottage built of rough sandstone blocks hidden 
beneath trellis work that supported wild grape 
and hop vines; she lived on the produce of a 
small piece of land the village people had 
worked for her since her husband's death. At 
her niece's arrival the cottage seemed at once 
to be full of commotion. 

"Good-morning, Auntie! Here are your 
children!" cried Sylvie, "and we're dreadfully 
hungry!" 

It was only after kissing her affectionately 
and placing the bunch of foxgloves in her arms, 
that it occurred to her to introduce me: "He 
is my sweetheart ! " And when I too had kissed 
her, she said: 

"What a fine young fellow — and fair hair 
too!" 

"He's got nice soft hair," Sylvie added. 

"It won't last," the old woman said, "but 
you've got plenty of time, and your dark hair 
goes well with his. " 

"We must give him some breakfast," an- 
nounced Sylvie, and she brought brown bread, 
milk and sugar from the cupboard, and spread 



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SYLVIE 41 

out on the table some earthenware plates and 
platters with flowers and bright-feathered 
cocks upon them in large design. A Creil 
china bowl of strawberries floating in milk 
went in the centre, and when several handfuls 
of cherries and currants had been brought in 
from the garden, Sylvie placed a vase of flowers 
at either end of the tablecloth. But her aunt, 
who was not to be outdone, objected: "This 
is all very nice, but it's only dessert. You 
must let me do something now," and taking 
down the frying-pan, she threw a faggot on the 
fire. Sylvie wanted to help her, but she was 
firm. "You mustn't touch this; those pretty 
fingers are for making lace, finer lace than they 
make at Chantilly! I know, because you once 
gave me some. " 

"Yes, I know, Auntie. But tell me, have 
you got any old bits? I can use them for models 
if you have. " 

"Go upstairs and see what you can find; 
perhaps there are some in my chest of drawers I" 

"But the keys, Auntie!" 

"Nonsense! The drawers are open. " 

"It's not true; there's one that's always 
locked, " and while the old woman was cleaning 
the frying-pan, Sylvie snatched a little key of 



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42 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

wrought steel from its place at her belt and 
waved it at me triumphantly. 

Then she ran quickly up the wooden stair- 
case leading to the bedroom, and I followed 
her. Oh, sacred Youth! Oh, sacred Old Age! 
Who could have dreamed of such an intru- 
sion into that innermost sanctuary where the 
memory of a first love lay carefully guarded? 
At the head of the rough bedstead, a young 
man with black eyes and red lips smiled down 
from an oval gilt frame. He was wearing a 
gamekeeper's uniform of the house of Conde, 
and his soldierly appearance, rosy cheeks and 
finely modeled forehead beneath his powdered 
hair had cast upon this otherwise commonplace 
portrait the spell of youthful grace and sim- 
plicity. Some unassuming artist, invited to 
the royal hunt, had done the best he could, and 
upon the opposite wall in a similar frame hung 
his portrait of the young wife, mischievous and 
inviting, in her slim, ribbon-laced bodice, coax- 
ing a bird perched upon her finger to come 
still nearer. This was indeed the same person 
who was cooking now down there bent over 
the hearth, and I thought of the fairies at the 
Funambules and the shriveled masks that con- 
cealed soft bright faces of youth until the last 



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SYLVIE 43 

scene when they were cast aside and the Temple 
of Love gleamed beneath the magical rays of 
a revolving sun. 

"Oh!" I exclaimed, "how pretty she was!" 

"And what about me?" said Sylvie, who had 
finally succeeded in opening the famous drawer. 
From it she drew a long dress of worn taffeta 
that crackled when she shook out the wrinkles. 

"I must try it on to see if it suits me. Oh! 
Fm going to look like an old-fashioned fairy!" 

"The Fairy of Legend, forever young!" I 
thought to myself; and Sylvie unhooked her 
printed-cotton frock, letting it fall around her 
feet. The taffeta dress fitted her slim waist 
perfectly, and she told me to hook her up. 

"Oh, these wide sleeves, aren't they ab- 
surd!" she cried; but their loop-shaped open- 
ings revealed her pretty bare arms, and her 
little white throat rose out of the faded tulle 
and ribbons of the bodice. 

" Do finish it! Don't you know how to hook 
up a dress?" She reminded me of Greuze's 
Village Bride. 

"You must have some powder," I said. 

"We'll find some," and she began to rum- 
mage again in the drawers. And the treasures 
they contained! What delicious perfume! 



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44 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

What a glistening of tinsel and brilliant colors: 
two slightly broken mother-of-pearl fans, some 
Chinese paste boxes, an amber necklace, and a 
host of other trinkets from which Sylvie extract- 
ed two little white slippers with paste buckles. 

"Oh, I must wear these," she said, "and 
there ought to be embroidered stockings to go 
with them. " A moment afterwards we unrolled 
a pair of silk ones — delicate pink with green 
clocks; but the old woman's voice and the 
rattling of the frying-pan below put an end to 
our explorations. 

"Go on down," Sylvie commanded, and 
nothing I could say would persuade her to 
allow me to help with the stockings and slip- 
pers, so I went down to find the contents of the 
frying-pan already dished up — a rasher of 
bacon with fried eggs. But I soon had to 
mount the stairs again at Sylvie's call, and 
found her costume now complete. 

"Dress yourself quickly," and she pointed 
to the gamekeeper's wedding-suit spread out 
on the chest. In a few moments I had become 
the bridegroom of a past generation. Sylvie 
was waiting for me on the stairs, and we de- 
scended hand-in-hand to meet the astonished 
gaze and the startled cry of the old woman: 



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SYLVIE 45 

" Oh, my children ! " She wept first and then 
smiled through her tears. It was a vision of 
her youth, at once cruel and delightful. We 
sat gravely down beside her, but our gayety 
soon returned when she began to recall the 
pompous festivities of her wedding. She even 
remembered the old part-songs that had been 
sung around her bridal table, and the simple 
epithalamium that had accompanied her re- 
turn, upon her husband's arm, after the dance. 
We repeated these, mindful of every hiatus and 
assonance; Solomon's Ecclesiastes was not 
more full of color nor more amorous. And we 
were husband and wife for that whole lovely 
summer's morning. 



VII 
Chaalis 

IT IS four o'clock in the morning; the road 
sinks down into a cut, and then rises again. 
The carriage will soon pass Orry, then La 
Chapelle. To the left there is a road that 
skirts the Forest of Hallate, where I went one 



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46 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

evening with Sylvie's brother in his cart; I 
think it was to some sort of festival on Saint 
Bartholomew's day. His pony flew over the 
little-used woodland roads as if bound for a 
witch's sabbath, until we turned through the 
village street at Mont-1'fivSque and, a few 
moments afterwards, drew up at the guard 
house which had once been Chaalis Abbey. . . 
Chadlis, and my mind throngs again with 
memories. 

There is nothing of this ancient refuge of 
emperors left to admire except the ruins of its 
cloister of byzantine arches through which one 
may look out across the lakes — the forgotten 
relic of a holy edifice upon what used to be 
known as Charlemagne's farm lands. The 
Cardinals of the House of Este, owing to their 
long stay thereabouts at the time of the Medici, 
had left their mark upon the religion of that 
country, so far removed from the hfe and 
movement of cities, and there is still something 
noble and poetic in its quality and practice; in 
the chapels beneath delicately molded arches, 
decorated by Italian artists, one breathes the 
perfume of the fifteenth century. Figures of 
saints and angels are painted in pink upon the 
pale blue background of the vaulting, with an 



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SYLVIE 47 

appearance of pagan allegory that calls to mind 
the sentimentality of Petrarch and the ficti- 
tious mysticism of Francesco Colonna. 

Sylvie's brother and I were intruders that 
evening at what turned out to be a sort of 
allegorical spectacle. It had been arranged by 
the owner of the domain, a person of noble 
birth, and he had invited some families of the 
neighborhood to be his guests. Some little 
girls from a nearby convent were to take part 
in the performance, which was not a repro- 
duction of the tragedies of Saint-Cyr, but 
dated back to those first lyrical experiments 
brought into France at the time of the Valois: 
a mystery play of the middle ages. The cos- 
tumes worn by the actors were long robes of 
azure, hyacinth or gold, and the opening scene 
was a discourse by the angels upon the de- 
struction of the world. They sang of its van- 
ished glories, and the Angel of Death set forth 
the causes of its downfall. A spirit then rose 
up out of the depths, holding the Flaming 
Sword in its hand, and bade them bow down 
in admiration before the Glory of Christ, 
Conqueror of the regions beneath the earth. 
It seemed as though I were gazing upon 
Adrienne, transformed by the spirit's robe as 



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48 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

she already was by her vocation, and the 
gilded pasteboard halo that encircled her head 
seemed to us quite naturally a ring of light. 
The range and the power of her voice had in- 
creased, and her singing, with its birdlike 
twitter of gracenotes, gave an Italian flavor to 
the severe phrasing of the recitative. 

As I set down these words I cannot help 
wondering whether the events they describe 
actually took place or whether I have dreamed 
them. Sylvie's brother was a little drunk that 
night, for we had stopped a few moments at 
the guard house, where a swan with wings out- 
spread, suspended above the door, impressed 
me greatly, and there were high cupboards of 
carved walnut, a grandfather's clock, and some 
trophies, bows, arrows, and a red and green 
marksmen's record. An odd-looking dwarf in 
a Chinese hat, holding a bottle in one hand and 
a ring in the other, seemed to be urging the 
marksmen to aim accurately. He was, if I am 
not mistaken, cut out of sheet-iron. . . . But 
the presence of Adrienne! — is it as clearly 
fixed in my mind as these details and the 
unquestionable existence of Chaalis Abbey? 
Yet I can remember that it was the guard's 
son who took us into the room where the per- 



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SYLVIE 49 

formance took place; we stood near the door 
and I have to-day a distinct impression of the 
deep emotion of that numerous company seated 
in front of us. It was Saint Bartholomew's 
day, peculiarly associated with the memory of 
the Medici, whose coat of arms, united with 
that of the house of Este, decorated the old 
walls. . . . But perhaps, after all, that cherished 
appearance was only one of my obsessions, and 
now, happily, the carriage has stopped at the 
Plessis road ; I emerge from the world of dreams 
and it is only a quarter of an hour's walk, by a 
deserted path, to Loisy. 



VIII 
The Loisy Dance 

1 ARRIVED at the Loisy dance just at that 
melancholy but somehow agreeable stage 
when the lights begin to grow dim at the 
approach of dawn. The lower outlines of the 
lindens had sunk into obscurity and their top- 
most branches were blue in the half-light. The 



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50 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

rustic flute strove but faintly now to silence the 
song of the nightingale, and I could hardly 
recognize those I knew, scattered through the 
pale, dishevelled groups. At last I found Lise, 
one of Sylvie's friends, and she kissed me, 
saying, "It's a long time since we've seen you, 
Parisian!" 

"Ah, yes, a long time." 

"And you've come just now?" 

"By the post-coach." 

"And not too quickly I" 

"I wanted to see Sylvie; is she still here?" 

"She never leaves before morning; she 
adores dancing, you know. " 

The next moment I saw her, and though her 
face looked tired, I saw that same Attic smile 
as she turned her black eyes upon me. A youth 
standing near by withdrew with a bow; she 
would forego the quadrille. 

It was almost broad daylight as we went out 
hand in hand from the dance. The flowers 
drooped in the loosened coils of Sylvie's hair, and 
petals from the bouquet at her waist fell down 
over the crumpled lace of her frock. I offered 
to take her home and we set out beneath a 
gray sky along the right bank of the Thfeve. 
Yellow and white water lilies bloomed in the 



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SYLVIE 51 

still pools at each bend in the stream, upon a 
delicately embroidered background of water 
stars; the meadows were dotted with sheaves 
and hayricks, and though their fragrance was 
less intoxicating than the cool scent of the 
woods and the thickets of flowering thorn, we 
followed the river path. 
"Sylvie," I said, "you love me no longer I" 
"Ah, my dear friend, " she sighed, "you must 
be reasonable; things don't come out in life as 
we want them to. You once spoke to me of 
La Nouvelle Hbloise; I've read it now, but the 
first sentence that met my eyes made me shud- 
der, 'Every girl who reads this book is lost.' 
However, I went on with it, trusting to my 
own judgment. You remember the day we 
dressed up in the wedding clothes at my 
Aunt's. In the book there were engravings of 
lovers in old-fashioned costumes, and when I 
saw Saint-Preux I thought of you, and I was 
Julie. Oh, if you had only been here then! 
But they told me you were in Italy, and I sup- 
pose you saw girls there much prettier than I 
am. 

"None as beautiful as you, Sylvie, nor with 
such clear-cut features. You might be a nymph 
out of some old Legend! And our country 



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52 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

here; it's just as beautiful as the Italian coun- 
try; the rocks there are just as high as ours, to 
be sure, and a cascade falls down over them 
like the one at Terni, but I saw nothing there 
that I miss here. " 

"And in Paris?" 

"In Paris?" I shook my head without 
replying, and I thought suddenly of that shad- 
owy form that had troubled my mind for so 
long. 

"Sylvie," I said, "let's stop here, do you 
mind?" Then I knelt at her feet, and told her 
of my indecision and my fickleness, while the 
hot tears rolled down my cheeks, and I called 
up the sinister apparition that haunted my 
life. "Sylvie," I sobbed, "you must save me, 
for I shall always love you and no one else." 

She turned to me tenderly and was about to 
speak, but at that moment we were interrupted 
by gay bursts of laughter from some nearby 
bushes. It was Sylvie's brother, who, after 
numerous refreshments at the dance, had come 
on to join us, in a state of exaltation far beyond 
the usual limits of country gayety. He called 
to Sylvie's admirer, who had remained behind 
the bushes, but who now came towards us even 
more unsteadily than his companion. He 



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SYLVIE 53 

seemed more embarrassed with me than with 
Sylvie, and his sincere though awkward defer- 
ence prevented me from bearing him any ill- 
will for having been the partner with whom 
Sylvie had stayed so late at the dance. I 
thought him not a very dangerous rival. 

"We must go home, .so good-by for the 
present," Sylvie said, and she offered me her 
cheek, which did not seem to offend her 
admirer. 



IX 

Ermenonville 

1 HADN'T the slightest desire to sleep, so I 
went to Montagny to see my uncle's house 
once more. Sadness took possession of me 
when I caught sight of its yellow front and 
green shutters; everything was just as before, 
except that I had to go around to the farm- 
house for the key, and then the shutters were 
thrown open, and I stood among the old bits 
of carefully polished furniture, all in their 
accustomed places: the high walnut cupboard. 



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54 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

the two Flemish pictures, said to be the work 
of our artist grandfather, some large engravings 
after Boucher, and a series of engraved illus- 
trations from Gmile and La Nouvelle Hihise 
by Moreau. The stuffed dog on the table had 
been my companion during his lifetime for 
many tramps through the woods; he was an 
Italian pug, perhaps the last of that forgotten 
race. 

" The parrot's still alive, " the farmer told me, 
"I've got him over at my house." And I 
looked out across the garden, a mass of luxuri- 
ant weeds; but over in the corner I could still 
see traces of the little patch that had been my 
own garden as a child. Trembling with emo- 
tion, I entered the study with its little bookcase 
of carefully chosen volumes, old friends of the 
man whose memory they evoked, and on his 
desk I saw the old Roman vases and medallions 
he had dug up in his garden, a small but greatly 
treasured collection. 

"Let's go and see the parrot," I said, and 
on entering the farmhouse we could hear him 
demanding his lunch as stridently as ever. He 
turned his gaze on me and his round eye in its 
circle of wrinkled skin made me think of a 
calculating old man. 



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SYLVIE 55 

My belated visit to this well-loved spot 
filled me with gloomy thoughts, and I longed 
to see Sylvie again. Sylvie was not a memory, 
she was alive and young, the only person who 
could keep me in this country of my childhood. 
At midday I set out along the Loisy road, and 
since everybody would be sure to be resting 
after the dance, I decided to walk two miles 
and a half through the woods to Ermenonville. 
The sun scarcely penetrated the interlacing 
branches of the trees above me, and the forest 
road was as deliciously cool as an avenue in 
some great park. Scattered among the tall 
oaks were birches with their white trunks and 
quivering foliage; no birds were singing, and 
the stillness was complete but for the tap-tap 
of a green woodpecker building its nest. The 
directions on the finger-posts were often quite 
illegible, and once I very nearly lost my way, 
but at last, leaving the Dfeert on my left, I 
came to the dancing-green and found the old 
men's bench still in existence, and I stood be- 
fore this graphic realization oiAnacharsis and of 
Gmile, beset by memories of an ancient philoso- 
phy revived by the previous owner of the estate. 

A little farther on when the glistening sur- 
face of a lake shone through the branches of the 



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56 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

hazels and willows, I knew it was to this spot 
that my uncle had so often brought me. Here 
in a grove of pines stands the Temple of Phil- 
osophy, unhappily never completed by its 
founder. This unfinished structure, already 
in ruins, resembles the temple of the Tiburtine 
sybil, and upon it are the names of great think- 
ers, beginning with Montaigne and Descartes 
and ending with Rousseau; graceful strands of 
ivy hang down among the columns, and the 
steps are covered with brambles. I remember 
being brought here as a little child to witness 
the awarding of school prizes to white-robed 
maidens. Raspberry bushes and dog-briars 
have killed the roses now; and have the laurels 
been cut, as they were in the song of the maid- 
ens who would not go into the wood? No, 
those delicate Italian shrubs could not live in 
our misty country, but Virgil's privet still 
blooms as if to emphasize his words inscribed 
above the door: Rerum cognosce™ causas! 
Yes, this temple is falling away like so many 
others; tired and forgetful men will pass it by 
unnoticed and Nature will carelessly reclaim 
the ground that Art sought to take from her, 
but a desire for knowledge will persist forever 
as the strength-giving incentive to every action. 



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SYLVIE 57 

I turned and saw the island with its grove of 
poplars, and the tomb of Rousseau which no 
longer contains his ashes. Ah! Rousseau, we 
were too weak to avail ourselves of what you 
set before us; we have forgotten what you 
taught our fathers, and we have wrongly inter- 
preted your words, those last echoes of ancient 
wisdom. Still, we must take courage, and, as 
you did at the moment of your death, turn our 
eyes to the sun. 

I saw the chateau surrounded by still waters, 
the cascade splashing down over the rocks, and 
the causeway joining the two parts of the 
village with its four dove-cots. The lawn 
stretches away to a great length between steep, 
shady hills, and Gabrielle's tower is reflected 
in the flower-starred waters of the artificial 
lake; little billows of foam press against the 
rocks beneath the cascade, and there is a 
monotonous hum of insects. The artificiality 
of the place repels me, and I hurry away across 
the sandy heath land, with its bracken and 
pink heather. How lonely and cheerless all 
these places are now, without Sylvie, and how 
delightful her childish joy made them seem to 
me years ago. I can recall her little cries as she 
ran here and there among the rocks and 



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58 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

heather. With tanned skin and bare feet she 
was like a young savage, except for the straw 
hat whose broad ribbons streamed out behind 
with her black hair. We went to get some milk 
at the dairy farm, and the farmer said to me, 
"How pretty your sweetheart is, little Paris- 
ian!" 

And she didn't dance with peasants then, 
you may be sure. She danced with me only, 
once a year, at the Festival of the Bow. 



X 

Curly-Head 

W W 7"HEN I reached Loisy , everybody was up 
W and about. Sylvie had quite the air of a 
young lady, and her clothes were almost 
entirely in the style of the city. She took me 
upstairs with all her former artlessness, and her 
smile was just as captivating as ever, but the 
prominent arch of her eyebrows gave her a look 
of seriousness now and then. The bedroom was 
still quite simple, though the furniture was 
modern. The antique pier-glass had gone and 



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SYLVIE 59 

in its place there was a mirror in a gilt frame, 
and above it a picture of a shepherd offering 
a bird's nest to a pink and blue shepherdess. 
The four-post bed, modestly hung with old 
flowered chintz, was now replaced by a walnut 
bedstead with a pointed canopy, and there 
were no more warblers in the cage by the 
window, but canaries. There was nothing of 
the past in this room, and my one idea was to 
leave it. 

"Will you be making lace to-day?" I asked 
her. 

"Oh, I don't make lace any more, there's no 
demand for it here; even at Chantilly the fac- 
tory is closed. " 

"What do you do then?" 

For answer she produced from one of the 
cupboards a steel instrument that looked like 
a long pair of pliers, and I asked her what it 
was. 

"It's what they call the machine; with it 
you hold the skin of the glove in order to sew 
it." 

"Ah, then you make gloves, Sylvie?" 

"Yes, we work here for the Dammartin 
trade, and it pays very well just now. Where 
d'you want to go? I'm not working to-day." 



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60 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

I looked toward the Othys road, but she 
shook her head and I knew that her aunt was 
no longer alive. Then she called a little boy 
and told him to saddle the donkey. 

"I'm still tired from last night, but this will 
do me good. Let's go to Chaalis. " 

The little boy followed us through the forest, 
carrying a branch, and Sylvie soon wanted to 
stop, so I urged her to rest a while, kissing her 
as I helped her to dismount. Somehow I could 
no longer bring our talk round to intimate mat- 
ters, and was obliged to tell her of my travels 
and my life in Paris. 

" It seems strange to go so far away. " 

"To see you again makes me think so too. " 

"Oh! that's easily said." 

"And you must admit that you are prettier 
now than you used to be. " 

"I know nothing about that." 

"Do you remember when we were children, 
how much bigger you were than I?" 

"And I was the naughtiest tool" 

"Oh, Sylvie!" 

"And we were put in two baskets slung on 
the donkey's back. " 

" Do you remember showing me how to catch 
crayfish beneath the bridges over the rivers?" 



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SYLVIE 61 

"And do you remember the day when your 
foster-brother pulled you out of the water? " 

" You mean Curly-head I And it was he who 
told me I could wade across ! " Then I hurried 
on to change the conversation. This incident 
vividly recalled the time when I had come 
there dressed in a little English suit, and all the 
peasants had laughed at me except Sylvie, who 
thought me magnificent. But I lacked the 
courage to remind her of her compliment of 
long ago, and the thought of the wedding 
clothes we had put on at Othys rose up in my 
mind, so I asked what had become of them. 

"Dear old Auntie, she lent me the dress to 
dance in at the Dammartin Carnival two years 
ago; she died last year. " And Sylvie wept so 
bitterly that I did not like to ask her how it was 
that she had gone to a masked ball. But I 
understood without asking when I remembered 
that, thanks to her trade of glove-maker, she 
was no longer a peasant. Her people were still 
as they had always been, but she was like an 
industrious fairy bringing ease and comforts 
to them all. 



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62 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

XI 
The Return 

XVTHEN we came out of the wood we found 
ww ourselves among the lakes of Chaalis. 
The slanting sun fell upon the little 
chateau which had sheltered the loves of 
Henry IV and Gabrielle, and it glowed red 
against the dull green of the forest. 

"That's a real Walter Scott landscape, isn't 
it?" said Sylvie. 

"And who told you about Walter Scott? 
You have been reading since I saw you three 
years ago! I want to forget books, and what 
gives me real pleasure is to revisit the old abbey 
where we used to play hide-and-seek together 
as little children. Do you remember how 
frightened you were when the keeper told us 
the story of the Red Monks?" 

"Oh, don't let's talk about that." 

"Then you must sing me the song of the 
maiden who was carried off while walking by 
the white rose tree in her father's garden. " 

"One doesn't sing that song any more." 

"Have you been studying music?" 

"A little." 



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SYLVIE 63 

"Then I suppose you sing nothing but 
operatic airs nowl" 

"And why should you complain of that?" 

"Because I love those old melodies and 
because you will forget how to sing them. " 

Sylvie then went through several bars of an 
air from a modern opera, phrasing them as she 
sang! 

We walked past the pools and soon came 
upon the smooth green lawn edged by elms and 
lindens where we had danced so often. My 
conceit led me to mark out the old Carlovingian 
walls for her and to decipher the coat of arms 
of the House of Este. 

"And you talk to me of reading! See how 
much more you have read than I. You're 
quite a scholar. " Her tone of reproach was 
irritating just when I had been waiting for a 
favorable moment to renew my entreaties of 
the morning. But what could I say to her, 
accompanied by a donkey and a very wide- 
awake little boy who never left us for a second, 
in order not to miss hearing a Parisian talk? 
And then I was stupid enough to tell her of that 
unforgetable appearance of Adrienne at Cha- 
&lis long ago; we even went into the very room 
in the chateau where I had heard her sing. 



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64 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

" If I could only hear your voice here beneath 
these arches, Sylvie, it would drive away the 
spirit that torments me, be it divine or the old 
bewitchment. " 

Then she repeated after me: 

Anges y descendez promptcment 
Au fond du pwgatoiref. . . 

"What a gloomy song!" 

"To me it's sublime; it is probably by Por- 
pora, and I think the words were translated in 
the sixteenth century. " 

"I'm sure I don't know," said Sylvie. 

We came back through the valley, taking the 
Charlepont road which the peasants, naturally 
unversed in etymology, insist upon calling 
Challepont. Sylvie, weary of the donkey, was 
walking beside me, leaning upon my arm. The 
road was deserted and I tried to speak the 
words that were in my mind, but somehow 
nothing but the most vulgar expressions oc- 
curred to me, or perhaps a pompous phrase 
from a novel that Sylvie might have read. 
Then, as we approached the walls of Saint S — , 
I surprised her with something quite classic, 
and fell silent for we were crossing water mead- 



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SYLVIE 65 

ows and our path had to be carefully chosen 
among the interlacing streams. 

"What's become of the nun?" I said sud- 
denly. 

"How tiresome you are with your nun I . . . 
Well, that affair hasn't turned out very well. " 
And this was all Sylvie would say about it. 

I wonder whether women know when men 
are not speaking their true feelings? So often 
are they deceived, that it seems hardly possible, 
and many men act the comedy of love so 
cleverly I Though there are women who sub- 
mit knowingly to deception, I could never 
bring myself to practise it, and besides, there 
is something sacred about a love that goes back 
to one's childhood. Sylvie and I had grown up 
together, almost as brother and sister, and to 
attempt to seduce her was unthinkable. Quite 
a different thought rose up in my mind! 

Were I in Paris at this moment, I said to 
myself, I would be at the theatre. What will 
Aurelia (that was the actress' name) be playing 
in to-night? Surely the Princess in the new 
drama, and how pathetic she is in the third act I 
And the love scene in the second, with that 
wizened old fellow who plays the hero. . . . 



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66 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"What are you meditating?" asked Sylvie, 
and then she began to sing: 

A Dammartin, Vy a trois belles filles: 
Vy en a z'une plus belle que le jour. . . 

"Ah, that's not fair," I cried, "you know 
plenty of those old songs!" 

" If you came here oftener I would try and 
remember them, but it would take time. You 
have your occupation in Paris, and I have my 
work here. Don't let's be too late; to-morrow 
I must be up at sunrise. " 



XII 
Father Dodu 

1WAS about to reply by throwing myself at 
her feet and offering her my uncle's house 
which I could still buy back, for there had 
been several heirs and the little estate was as 
yet undivided, but unhappily we had arrived at 
Loisy, where supper was being delayed for us. 



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SYLVIE 67 

Onion soup proclaimed itself before we entered, 
and some of the neighbors had been invited to 
celebrate the day after the festival. I recog- 
nized Father Dodu at once, the old woodman 
who used to tell stories by the fire in the even- 
ings. In his time, Father Dodu had been a 
shepherd, a messenger, a gamekeeper, a fisher- 
man, and even a poacher, and in his leisure 
moments he made cuckoo clocks and turnspits. 
His present occupation was to show Ermenon- 
ville to the English, taking them to all the 
places where Rousseau had sat in meditation, 
and telling them about the philosopher's last 
days. It was Father Dodu who, as a little boy, 
had been employed by him to sort out his 
plants, and he had gathered the hemlock whose 
juice was to be squeezed into his cup of coffee. 
The innkeeper of the Golden Cross would 
never believe this last detail and consequently 
the old woodman had always hated him. It 
had long been grudgingly admitted that Father 
Dodu possessed several quite innocent secrets, 
such as curing sick cows by reciting a verse of 
the Scriptures backwards, and making the sign 
of the cross with the left foot. But he always 
disowned them, declaring that, thanks to the 



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68 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

memory of his conversations with Jean- 
Jacques, he had long since abandoned super- 
stitions. 

"Have you come here, little Parisian, to 
corrupt our girls?" 

"I, Father Dodu?" 

"You take them into the woods when the 
wolfs not there I" 

"You are the wolf, Father Dodu. " 

"I was, as long as I could find any sheep; 
now there are only goats and they can defend 
themselves. You Paris people are a bad lot, 
and Jean-Jacques was right when he said, 
'L'homme se corrompt dans Fair empoisonne des 
villes.' " 

"You know only too well, Father Dodu, that 
men are corrupt everywhere." Whereupon 
the old man began a drinking-song which he 
finished in spite of our outcry against a certain 
filthy verse that we all knew it contained. We 
besought Sylvie to sing, but she refused, saying 
that one did not sing at table nowadays. 

I had already noticed the youth who had 
been so attentive to her the night before, for he 
was sitting on her left, and there was something 
in his round face and dishevelled hair that was 
strangely familiar to me. He got up and came 



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SYLVIE 69 

round behind my chair ; " Don't you recognize 
me, Parisian? " And then the woman who had 
been waiting on us whispered in my ear: 
"Don't you remember your foster-brother?" 

"Oh, it's Curly-head, of course," I cried, 
thankful for the timely information, "and you 
pulled me out of the water I" 

Sylvie burst out laughing at our meeting, 
and Curly-head continued, after kissing me, 
"I didn't know you had a beautiful silver 
watch in your pocket, and that you were much 
more anxious at its haying stopped than you 
were about yourself; you said, 'The animal's 
drowned, he doesn't go tick-tack any more! 
Whatever will my uncle say?' " 

"So that's what they tell little children in 
Paris!" said Father Dodu. "Fancy an animal 
in a watch!" 

I thought Sylvie had forgotten me com- 
pletely, for she started to go up to her room, 
saying she was sleepy, but as I kissed her good- 
night she said, " Come and see us to-morrow. " 

Father Dodu sat with us for a long time over 
a bottle of ratafia. Once he paused between 
two verses of a song he was singing and said, 
"All men are the same to me. I drink with a 
pastry-cook as I would drink with a prince!" 



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70 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"And where is the pastry-cook?" I asked. 

"This young man wants to go into the busi- 
ness. " Then Curly-head blushed, and I under- 
stood everything. 

I was fated to have a foster-brother in this 
place made illustrious by Rousseau (Rousseau 
who reproved the use of wet-nurses!). Father 
Dodu told me that Sylvie would probably 
marry Curly-head, and that he wanted to open 
a confectioner's shop at Dammartin. I asked 
no more questions, and the next day the Nan- 
teuil-le-Haudoin coach took me back to Paris. 



XIII 

AURELIA 

TO PARIS! ... The coach would take five 
hours, but I only wanted to be there for 
the evening, and eight o'clock found me 
in my usual seat. The play, the work of a poet 
of the day, and faintly reminiscent of Schiller, 
owed much to Aurelia's inspired reading of her 
lines, and in the garden scene she was astonish- 



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SYLVIE 71 

ing. She did not appear in the fourth act, and 
I went out to Madame Prevost's to buy her a 
bouquet. In it I put a very affectionate letter, 
signed Un Inconnu, saying to myself that I 
now had something settled for the future. The 
next morning I started for Germany. And why 
did I do this? To bring order into the confu- 
sion of my thoughts. If I were to write a novel 
about a man in love with two women at once, 
what chance would I have of getting it ac- 
cepted? Sylvie had slipped away from me, 
and though I had no one to blame for this but 
myself, it had taken only a day to rekindle my 
love for her. Now she was for me a statue in 
the Temple of Wisdom, whose placid smile had 
caused me to hesitate at the edge of an abyss. 
And it seemed inconceivable to offer myself to 
Aurelia, to join that company of commonplace 
lovers who fluttered like moths into a con- 
suming flame. 

We shall see one day, I said, whether she has 
a heart or not, and it was not long before I read 
in the papers that Aurelia was ill. I wrote to 
her from the mountains of Salzburg, but my 
letter was so full of Germanic mysticism that 
I hardly expected it to have much success; 
there could be no answer, for I had not signed 



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72 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

my name, and I put my faith in Chance and 
. . . rinconnu. 

Months went by while I was writing a poetic 
drama about the painter Colonna's love for 
Laura, whose family had placed her in a con- 
vent, and whom he had loved till the end of his 
days; there was something in this subject akin 
to my own perplexities. When I had finished 
the last line I began to think about returning 
to France. 

What can I say now that will not be the 
story of most of my fellow-beings? I passed, 
circle by circle, into the Purgatory which we 
call the theatre; "I ate of the drum and drank 
of the cymbal, " as runs the senseless phrase of 
the initiates of Eleusis. It means, no doubt, 
that when the need arises one must go beyond 
the boundaries of nonsense and absurdity. 
For me it was a question of achieving my ideal 
and of making it permanent. 

Aurelia accepted the leading part in the 
drama I had brought back with me from Ger- 
many, and I shall never forget the day when 
she let me read it to her. It was she who had 
inspired the love scenes, and consequently 
there was true feeling in my rendering of them. 
Then I disclosed the identity of rinconnu of 



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SYLVIE 73 

the two letters, and she said, "You are quite 
mad, but come and see me again. I am still 
waiting to find the man who knows how to love 

•ft '» 

me. 

Oh, Woman! Is it love you are seeking? 
And I? The letters I wrote her then must 
have been more exquisite and more moving 
than any she had ever received, but her replies 
did not exceed the limits of friendship. One 
day, however, her emotions were stirred, and 
she summoned me to her boudoir to tell me of 
an attachment from which it would be very 
difficult to extricate herself. 

" If you really love me for myself, " she said, 
" you will want me to be yours and yours only. " 

Two months later I received an effusive let- 
ter, and a few moments after reading it I was 
on my way to her flat. A friend whom I met 
in the street gave me this precious bit of infor- 
mation: the young man I had met at the club 
had just joined the Algerian cavalry. 

The next summer Aureha and her compan- 
ions gave a performance at the Chantilly race 
meeting and, while there, they were all under 
the orders of the manager, to whom I had made 
myself as agreeable as possible. He had played 
Dorante in Marivaux's comedies and the lover's 



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74 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

part in many dramas, and his latest success 
was in the play after the manner of Schiller, 
when he looked so wizened. At close range he 
seemed much younger, and being slender he 
was able to produce quite an effect in the 
provinces, for he still had plenty of vivacity. 
I had succeeded in getting him to give per- 
formances at Senlis and Dammartin, for I had 
become attached to the company as Chief Poet : 
he was at first in favor of Compiegne, but 
Aurelia had agreed with me. The following 
day, while they were dealing with the authori- 
ties and obtaining a theatre, I hired some 
horses and we rode out past the lakes of 
Comelle to have lunch at the Chateau of Queen 
Blanche. Dressed in her riding-habit, and with 
her hair streaming out in the wind, Aurelia 
rode through the wood like a queen of bygone 
days, to the great bewilderment of the peas- 
antry, who had never seen any one, since 

Madame de F , so imposing or so gracious. 

After lunch we went to some neighboring vil- 
lages, so like those of Switzerland, with their 
sawmills run by the waters of the Nonette. 
These places, full of precious memories for me, 
awakened only a mild interest in Aurelia, and 
even when I took her to the green lawn in front 



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SYLVIE 75 

of the chateau near Orry , where I had first seen 
Adrienne, she was unmoved. So I told her 
how my love had been awakened by that slen- 
der figure bathed in mist and moonlight, and 
how, since then, that love had lived only in 
my dreams, now to be realized in her. She was 
gravely attentive, and when I had finished 
speaking she said, "You don't love me at all! 
You're only waiting for me to tell you that the 
actress and the nun are the same person. All 
you want is a drama, and the climax evades 
you. I've lost my faith in you completely!" 

A flash of the truth came to me as she spoke. 
This extraordinary passion that had possessed 
me for so long, these dreams and these tears, 
this despair and this tenderness, perhaps it 
wasn't love at all? But then where was love 
to be found? 

Amelia played that evening at Senlis, and it 
seemed to me that she showed rather a fond- 
ness for the manager, the wizened lover. He 
was an extremely upright man, and he had 
been very useful to her. One day she spoke of 
him to me, "If you want to see some one who 
really loves me, there he is!" 



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76 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

XIV 
The Last Leaves 

SUCH are the vagaries that beguile and 
disturb the morning of life, and though 
there seems to be little order in what I 
have written here, I know there are those who 
will understand me. Illusions fall away from 
us one after the other, and experience is like a 
fruit that may not be tasted until the skin is 
removed. Its flavor is often bitter, but there 
is something invigorating in bitterness. (I 
hope these old phrases will be forgiven.) 

Rousseau says that to look upon Nature is 
consolation for everything, and I sometimes 
go in search of my favorite grove at Clarens, 
lost in the mists to the north of Paris, but there 
is nothing there to stir my memory. All is 
changed. 

Ermenonvillel — where they still read Gess- 
ner's ancient idyl, translated for the second 
time — no longer will your twofold radiance 
fall upon me, blue or rose, like Aldebaran's 
elusive star; now Adrienne, now Sylvie, the two 
objects of a single passion, an unachieved ideal 
and a sweet reality. Your shady groves, your 
lakes, and even your solitudes, what are they 



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SYLVIE 77 

to me now? Othys, Montagny, Loisy, your 
humble neighbors, and Chaalis now being re- 
stored: they have kept nothing of the past. 
Sometimes the need rises up within me to re- 
visit these places of silence and meditation, 
and sadly to evoke the fugitive memories of a 
time when my affectation was to be natural; 
and I often smile on reading those once ad- 
mired lines of Roucher cut into the surface of a 
rock, or a benevolent saying carved on a foun- 
tain or above the entrance to a grotto sacred to 
Pan. The ponds, dug out at such great ex- 
pense, offer their leaden waters to the swans in 
vain, and the woods no longer echo with the 
horns of the Cond6 huntsmen or flash with the 
color of their habits. To-day there is no direct 
road to Ermenonville; sometimes I go by Creil 
and Senlis, and sometimes by Dammartin. 

I never go to Dammartin until evening, so I 
spend the night at the Image Saint Jean, where 
they give me a room with old tapestry upon 
the walls and a pier-glass hanging between the 
windows. Beneath an eiderdown coverlet, 
with which one is always provided in that part 
of the country, I sleep warmly, and in the 
morning, through an open window framed by 
vines and roses, I survey with delight a green 



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78 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

expanse of twenty-five miles. The poplars look 
like lines of soldiers, and here and there villages 
shelter beneath their pointed church towers. 
First thereis Othys, then five, then Ver; and I 
could find Ermenonville in the forest, if it had 
a tower, but in that* retreat qf philosophers the 
church has been neglected. I breathe deeply 
of this pure upland air, and set forth to the 
confectioner's shop. 

"Hello, Curly-head!" 

"Hello, Little Parisian!" And after a 
friendly hand-clasp, I run upstairs to be wel- 
comed by shouts of joy from the two children 
and by Sylvie's delighted smile. I say to my- 
self, "Perhaps this is happiness! Still ..." 

I sometimes call her Lolotte, and though I do 
not carry pistols, for it is no longer the fashion, 
she thinks me a little like Werther. While 
Curly-head is occupied in getting the lunch 
ready, we take the children for a walk through 
the avenue of Hmes that encircles what is left 
of the old brick towers of the chateau, and while 
they are playing with their bows and arrows 
we read poetry or a page or two from one of 
those short books that are so rare nowadays. 

I forgot to say that I took Sylvie to the per- 
formance at Dammartin, and asked her 



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SYLVIE 79 

whether she thought Amelia resembled some 
one she knew. 

"Whom do you mean?" 

"Don't you remember Adrienne?" 

"What an idea!'? she exclaimed, and burst 

out laughing, but then, as if in self-reproach, 

she sighed and said, "Poor Adrienne, she died 

at the Convent of Saint S about 1832." 



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Digitized by VjOOQIC 



EMILIE 
Memories of the French Revolution 



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EMILIE 

^TVTO ONE actually knows the story of 
J_^| Lieutenant Desroches who was killed 
last year at the battle of Hambergen, 
just two months after his wedding. If it was 
really suicide, may God forgive him! But 
surely, a man who sacrifices his life for his 
country deserves to have his action given a 
better name than that, whatever his motives. " 

"That takes us back again to the question of 
compromising with conscience," put in the 
Doctor. "Desroches was a philosopher who 
had had enough of life; he wanted his death to 
be of some use, so he threw himself bravely 
into the conflict, and killed as many Germans 
as possible, saying to himself, 'This is the best 
I can do now, and I'm content to die.' And 
when the blow fell that killed him, he shouted, 
'Vive FEmpereur! 9 Ten soldiers from his 
company will tell you the same thing. " 

"And it was no less a suicide for that," re- 
plied Arthur, "still, it would not have been 
right to refuse him church burial. ..." 
83 



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84 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"If you argue that way, you underrate the 
self-sacrifice of Curtius. That young Roman 
knight may have been ruined by gambling, 
unlucky in his love affairs, and tired of life, 
who knows? But undoubtedly there is some- 
thing fine about a man, who, when he has made 
up his mind to leave this world, wants his 
death to be of some use to others, and that is 
why it was not suicide in the case of Desroches, 
for suicide is the quintessence of egoism and 
calls forth the world's disapproval. . . . What 
are you thinking about, Arthur?" 

"About what you said a moment ago — that 
Desroches killed as many Germans as he could 
before he died. " 

"Well?" 

"The appearance of those poor souls before 
God provided melancholy evidence of the 
splendid death of Lieutenant Desroches, and 
I must say that it seems to me homicide as 
well as suicide. " 

"Oh, who would think of that? Germans 
are enemies. " 

"But does a man who has made up his mind 
to die have enemies? At that moment nation- 
ality disappears, and one thinks only of the 



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EMILIE 85 

other world, and of God as the only Sovereign. 
But the Holy Father listens and says noth- 
ing; still, I hope he will approve of what I am 
saying. Come, Father, give us your opinion, 
and try to bring us to an agreement. The 
question is a very difficult one, and the story 
of Desroches, or rather what the Doctor and I 
believe we know of it, appears to be no less 
complicated than the discussion it has pro- 
duced between us. " 

"Yes," said the Doctor, "one is told that 
Desroches was greatly distressed by his last 
wound — the one that so terribly disfigured 
him — and it may be that he surprised a look of 
scorn or ridicule upon the face of the woman he 
had just married. Philosophers are easily 
offended. In any case, he died, and willingly. " 

"Willingly, if you insist upon it, but don't 
call the death one meets in battle suicide. 
That misinterpretation may be in your mind, 
but do not put it into words. One dies in a 
conflict because one encounters something that 
kills, not because one wishes to die. " 

"Then you want to call it fate?" 

"My turn has come," said the priest, who 
had been lost in meditation during this dis- 



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cussion, "and you will perhaps think it strange 
of me to object to your paradoxes or your 
suppositions. ..." 

"Go ahead, by all means; you undoubtedly 
know more about it than we do. You've lived 
at Bitche for a long time, and we are told that 
Desroches knew you. For all we know, you 
may have been his confessor. " 

" If that were the case, I should have to keep 
silence. Unfortunately, Desroches confessed 
to no one, but you may take my word for it 
that his was a Christian death. I shall tell you 
what caused it, and how it occurred, so that 
you will think of him as an upright man and a 
good soldier to the end. He died both for 
Humanity and for himself, and his death was 
according to the will of God. 

"Desroches joined a regiment when he was 
only fourteen, at a time when our republican 
army was being replenished with youthful 
recruits, most of the men having been killed on 
the frontier. He was as weak and slender as a 
girl, and it distressed his companions to see his 
fragile shoulders bend under the weight of his 
gun. You must have heard how permission 
was obtained from the Captain to have it cut 
down six inches. With his weapon thus suited 



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EMILIE 87 

to his strength, Desroches did splendid work 
in Flanders, and later on he was sent to Hague- 
nau, where we, or rather you, were fighting for 
so long. 

"At the time of which I am going to speak, 
Desroches was at the height of his powers, and 
his services as ensign-bearer to the regiment 
were far greater than his rank or his flag would 
have led one to think, for he was practi- 
cally the only man to survive two reinforce- 
ments. Twenty-seven months ago, he was made 
a lieutenant, after receiving a terrible face 
wound at Bergheim. The field-surgeons, who 
had often joked with him over the thirty bat- 
tles he had come through without even a 
scratch, shook their heads when they saw him. 
'If he lives,' they said/ he'll always be weak- 
minded or perhaps insane. ' 

"The lieutenant was sent to Metz to recover, 
and a good many miles of the journey had been 
accomplished before he regained consciousness. 
After five or six months of the best possible 
care, he was able to sit up, and in another 
three he managed to open one eye. Then 
tonics were prescribed, and sunlight, and finally 
short walks. One morning, supported by two 
companions, he set out with spinning head and 



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trembling limbs for the qu#i Saint-Vincent, 
close to the military hospital, and as he sat 
there at the edge of the promenade in the mid- 
day sun, the poor fellow thought he was seeing 
the light of day for the first time. 

"He was soon able to walk by himself, and 
went every morning to the same bench on the 
promenade. His head was a mass of black 
taffeta bandages, all but covering his face, and 
he could always count on receiving a cordial 
greeting from the men who passed him, and a 
gesture of deep sympathy from the women. 
From this, however, he took small comfort. 

"But when he was seated in the warm sun- 
light, the mere fact of being alive in such pleas- 
ant surroundings after his terrible experience 
caused him to forget his misfortune. The 
dilapidated ramparts of the old fortress — a 
ruin since the time of Louis XVI — spread 
themselves out before him. The lindens were 
in flower, and they drew a line of thick shadows 
behind him. In the valley that dipped away 
from the promenade, the Moselle, overflowing 
its banks, kept the meadows of Saint-Sympho- 
rien green and fertile between its two arms. 
Then came the tiny island of Saulcy with its 
shady trees and cottages; and finally the white 



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EMILIE 89 

foamy falls of the Moselle and its winding 
course sparkling in the sunlight. The Vosges 
mountains floated like billows of bluish mist 
at the extreme limit of his vision, and he gazed 
at them with ever increasing delight, his heart 
gladdened by the thought that there lay his 
own country — not conquered territory, but 
true French soil. These rich new provinces for 
which he had fought were uncertain acquisi- 
tions, like the loves we have won yesterday 
and will lose to-morrow. 

"In the early days of June, the heat was 
intense; Desroches had chosen a bench, well in 
the shade, and it happened one day that two 
women came and sat beside him. He greeted 
them quietly and continued his contemplation 
of the surrounding country, but his appearance 
was so interesting that they could not help 
plying him with sympathetic questions. 

"One of the two was well advanced in years, 
and proved to be the aunt of the other, whose 
name was Emilie. The older woman earned 
her living by doing gilt embroidery upon silk 
or velvet. You see, Desroches had followed 
their example, and after further questioning, 
he learned that Emilie had left Haguenau to 
keep her aunt company, that she did church 



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90 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

embroidery, and that she had been an orphan 
for some time. 

"The next day found the bench similarly 
occupied, and by the end of the week the three 
were fast friends. Desroches, in spite of his 
weakness, and his humiliation at the attentions 
the young girl lavished upon him as though he 
were a harmless old man, was inclined to be 
light-hearted, and he ended by rejoicing in his 
unexpected good fortune instead of being dis- 
tressed by it. Then always, on his return to the 
hospital, he remembered his terrible disfigure- 
ment — the prospect of going through life with 
the appearance of a scarecrow had caused him 
many hours of despair — but habit and his long 
convalescence had taught him to regard it 
with less apprehension. 

"Certainly Desroches had never dared to 
take off the already useless dressing of his 
wound, nor to look at himself in the mirror, 
and the thought of doing so was now more 
terrifying than ever. However, he ventured to 
lift one corner of the taffeta, and found there a 
scar which was slightly pink, to be sure, but 
not by any means too repulsive. He then sub- 
mitted his face to a further examination and 
discovered that the scar had not altered the 



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EMILIE 91 

shape of it, and that his eyes were as clear and 
healthy as ever. It was true that some of the 
hairs in his eyebrows were missing, but that 
was a small matter! The oblique stripe across 
his face, from forehead to ear, was ... well, it 
was a sword cut received at Bergheim, and one 
knew from plenty of songs what a splendid 
thing it was to have such a distinction. 

"Desroches was astonished to find that he 
was so presentable after the long months during 
which he had seemed a stranger to himself. 
He cleverly concealed the hair turned gray by 
his wound beneath the abundant brown on the 
left side, and drew out his mustache to as great 
a length as possible along the line of his scar. 
Then on the following day he put on his new 
uniform and set forth triumphantly from the 
hospital. Those who passed him on his way 
to the gardens failed to recognize this sprightly 
young officer with tilted shako and a sword 
that jauntily slapped his thigh. 

"He was the first to arrive at the bench by 
the lindens and sat down with his customary 
deliberation, but in reality he was profoundly 
agitated and much paler than usual, in spite of 
the approval he had received from his mirror. 

"The two ladies soon put in an appearance, 



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92 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

but they suddenly turned and walked away at 
the sight of a smart-looking officer sitting upon 
their accustomed bench. Desroches was deeply 
moved. 

" 'What!' he exclaimed, 'you don't recog- 
nize me?' 

" You mustn't think that all this was the pref- 
ace to one of those stories of pity that turns 
into love, like the plot of an opera. Desroches 
now had serious intentions; he was glad to find 
himself once more considered eligible, and has- 
tened to put the two ladies' minds at rest, for 
they seemed disposed to continue the three- 
cornered friendship. Their reserve gave way 
before his candid sincerity. The match was a 
suitable one from every point of view, and in 
addition, Desroches had a little property near 
Epinal. Emilie possessed a little house at 
Haguenau, inherited from her parents, which 
was let as a restaurant. This yielded an income 
of five or six hundred francs, which she divided 
with her brother Wilhelm, chief clerk to 
Schennberg, the notary-public. 

"When the arrangements were complete, it 
was decided that the wedding should take 
place at Haguenau, for it was really the young 
girl's home. She had only come to Metz to be 



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EMILIE 93 

with her aunt, and it was agreed that they 
should return there afterwards. Emilie was 
delighted at the prospect of seeing her brother 
again, and Desroches' astonishment was 
aroused by the fact that the young man was 
not in the army with his contemporaries. 
Emilie told him her brother had been dis- 
charged on account of poor health, and Des- 
roches was overcome with sympathy for him. 
"So the betrothed couple and Emilie's aunt 
set forth one day for Haguenau; they took 
places in the public conveyance that changed 
horses at Bitche. In those days it was simply 
a stage-coach of leather and wicker-work. The 
road, as you know, leads through beautiful 
country, and Desroches* who had only been 
along it in uniform, sword in hand, with three 
or four thousand other men, was now able to 
enjoy the solitude, the hills in their mantle of 
dark green foliage, and the fantastic shapes of 
the rocks that cut the sky-line. The fertile 
uplands of Saint-Avoid, the factories of Sarre- 
guemines, the thickly-wooded copses of Lijnb- 
lingue, where poplars, ashes and pines display 
the varying shades of their foliage from gray 
to dark green . . . you know what delightful 
scenery it is. 



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94 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"As soon as they had arrived at Bitche, the 
travelers went to the Dragon, and Desroches 
sent to the fortress for me. I joined him at once 
in order to make the acquaintance of his new 
family, and I complimented the young woman, 
whose rare beauty and charming manner im- 
pressed me greatly. I could see, too, that she 
was deeply in love with her future husband. 
The three lunched with me here, where we are 
sitting at this moment, and several officers, 
old friends of Desroches, who had heard of his 
arrival, came to the inn to beg him to stay for 
dinner at the restaurant near the fortress, 
where the staff took their meals. So it was 
agreed that the ladies should take themselves 
off early, and that the lieutenant should devote 
the last evening of his bachelorhood to his 
fellow officers. 

"The dinner was a lively affair, and every 
one reveled in his share of the happiness and 
gayety that Desroches had brought with him. 
They all spoke with enthusiasm of Egypt and 
Italy, and complained bitterly of the ill fortune 
that kept so many good soldiers garrisoned on 
the frontier. 

" 'Yes,' grumbled some of the officers, 'the 
monotony of this life is wearing us out; we're 



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EMILIE 95 

suffocating here. Might just as well be on a 
ship somewhere, as to live here without any 
fighting or distraction of any kind, or any 
chance of promotion. "The fort is impreg- 
nable." That's what Napoleon said when he 
passed through here to rejoin his forces in 
Germany; to die of boredom is the only thing 
that can happen to us. ' 

" 'Alas! my friends,' replied Desroches, 'it 
was hardly more amusing in my time; I com- 
plained of the life here as much as you do now. 
I had gotten my commission through devoting 
my whole mind to it, and the result was that I 
knew only three things: military drill, the 
direction of the wind, and as much grammar as 
one learns from the village schoolmaster. So 
when I was made second lieutenant and sent 
to Bitche with the second battalion of the 
Cher, Hooked upon my stay here as an excel- 
lent opportunity for real uninterrupted study. 
With this in mind, I got some books, maps and 
charts — I easily learned tactics, and German 
came naturally, for nothing else was spoken in 
this good French country — so that this time, 
so tedious for you who have so much less to 
learn, seemed to pass too quickly for me. At 
night I retired into a little room built of stone, 



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96 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

beneath the great winding staircase; there I 
lit my lamp and worked, with all the loopholes 
carefully stopped. One night . . . ' 

"Here Desroches paused a moment, drew his 
hand across his eyes, emptied his glass, and 
continued his narrative without finishing the 
sentence. 

" 'You all know,' he went on, 'that little 
path that leads up here from the plain below — 
the one they've made impassable by blowing 
up a huge rock and not filling up the hole it 
left — well, it was always fatal to hostile troops 
attacking the fortress; no sooner did the poor 
devils commence the ascent than they were 
subjected to the gunfire of four twenty-fours 
that swept the whole length of the path. I 
suppose those guns are still there. ' 

" 'You must have distinguished yourself, ' 
put in one of the colonels. 'Was it there that 
you became a lieutenant?' 

" 'Yes, Colonel, and it was there I killed the 
one and only man I ever fought with hand to 
hand. That's why it always distresses me to 
see this fort. ' 

" 'What do you mean?' they cried. 'You 
can't expect us to believe that after twenty 
years of army life, fifteen pitched battles and 



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EMILIE 97 

perhaps fifty skirmishes, you've only killed 
one man. ' 

" 'I did not say that, gentlemen; I've 
rammed ten thousand cartridges into my gun, 
but for all any one knows, half of them may 
have gone wide of their mark. In any case, at 
Bitche, I give you my word, my hand was first 
stained with the blood of an enemy, and my 
arm first drove the cruel point of my sword 
into a human breast. ' 

" ' It's true, ' interrrupted one of the officers, 
'that a soldier can kill many of his opponents 
without ever knowing it. Gunfire is not 
execution; it's only the intention to kill. In 
the most disastrous charges, the bayonet plays 
but a small part; ground is held or lost without 
close personal combat. Bayonets clash, and 
then disengage when resistance gives way. 
Mounted troops, for instance, do really fight 
hand to hand. ' 

" 'And so,' continued Desroches, 'just as 
one never forgets the last look of an adversary 
one has killed in a duel, his death-rattle, or the 
sound of his fall, so am I filled with remorse — 
laugh at me for it, if you will — by the ever- 
present vision of the Prussian sergeant I killed 
in the little powder magazine of this fort. ' 



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98 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"Everybody was silent, and Desroches went 
on: 

" 'It was at night, and I was working as I 
have already told you. At two o'clock every 
one was asleep except the sentinels, and their 
duties were discharged in absolute silence, so 
that any noise was sure to rouse their sus- 
picions. However, I kept hearing some sort of 
disturbance in the long gallery beneath my 
bedroom; then some one threw himself against 
a door and it began to crack. I ran out into 
the corridor and listened; then I called to the 
sentinel in a low voice — no reply. In a moment 
or two I had summoned the gunners, jumped 
into my uniform, and was running in the 
direction of the noise, with my unsheathed 
sword in my hand. About thirty of us arrived 
simultaneously at the middle of the gallery 
where several passages meet, and, in the dim 
light of the lanterns, we recognized the Prus- 
sians, who had been treacherously admitted 
at the postern gate. They advanced in great 
confusion, and, on catching sight of us, fired 
several shots, which produced a terrific detona- 
tion, beneath those low-vaulted ceilings. We 
faced each other with rapidly increasing num- 



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EMILIE 99 

bers, until it became difficult to move, but 
there was a space of six or eight feet between 
the two parties. We French were so surprised 
and the Prussians so disappointed that no one 
seemed to think of entering the lists, bqt this 
hesitation was only momentary. Extra torches 
and lanterns provided us with the necessary 
light — some of the gunners had hung theirs 
upon the wall — and a very old-fashioned kind 
of fighting took place. I was in the front rank, 
facing a tall Prussian sergeant covered with 
stripes and decorations; the crowd was so 
thick that he had great difficulty in manipula- 
ting his gun . . . alas! how easily I recall these 
details! Perhaps it never entered his head to 
offer any resistance. I threw myself upon him, 
and plunged my sword into his noble breast; 
then his eyes opened wide and became fixed in 
a terrible stare, his fists clenched, and he fell 
into the arms of his comrades. ... I don't 
remember what happened then; later, I found 
myself in the courtyard, drenched with blood. 
The Prussians had disappeared through the 
postern gate, and our gunfire accompanied 
them back to their encampment P 
"After he had finished speaking, there was a 



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100 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

long silence, and then they talked of other 
things. The expression of sadness worn by 
those soldiers after they had heard of this 
seemingly ordinary misfortune, was very curi- 
ous when you come to think of it, and one could 
tell just how much the life of a man was worth 
— even a German's life, Doctor — by examining 
the faces of these men whose profession was to 
kiU." 

"The spilling of human blood is a fearful 
thing, however it is done;" replied the doctor, 
slightly surprised, "still Desroches did no 
wrong, for he was defending himself. " 

"Who knows?" muttered Arthur. 

"You were talking a little while ago, Doctor, 
about compromising with conscience. Tell us 
now, wasn't the sergeant's death something 
approaching a murder? Is it certain that the 
Prussian would have killed Desroches?" 

"But in a war, after all!" 

"All right, yes, that was war. But we kill 
men at three hundred paces in the dim morning 
light — men who do not know us and cannot see 
us; we face these men whom we do not hate, 
and kill them with anger blazing in our eyes. 
We comfort ourselves by saying it was a fair 



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EMILIE 101 

fight, and are proud of what we have done. It 
is held to be an honorable action by Christian 
people!" 

"Bedtime came and Desroches was the first 
to forget his dismal story, for, from the room he 
had been given, he could see a certain window 
in the Dragon Hotel through the trees, where a 
night-lamp shone faintly. That room con- 
tained his future happiness, and when, in the 
middle of the night, he was awakened by the 
watchman making his rounds, he was oppressed 
and a little frightened by the consciousness 
that in case of danger his courage could no 
longer electrify him into action. The next day, 
before the firing of the morning gun, the guard 
captain opened a door for him and he found the 
two ladies waiting near the outer fortifications. 
I accompanied them as far as Neunhoffen, and 
they went on to Haguenau to be married at 
the Registrar's offic^, after which they were to 
return to Metz for the religious ceremony. 

"Emilie's brother Wilhelm welcomed Des- 
roches cordially enough, and each of the 
brothers-in-law proceeded to take the other's 
measure. Wilhelm was of medium height, and 
well put together; his blond hair was already 
very thin, as though too much study or a great 



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102 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

sorrow had undermined his health, and he 
wore blue spectacles, for, as he said, his eyes 
were so weak that the slightest ray of light 
caused him pain. Desroches had brought a 
bundle of papers with him, to which Wilhelm 
gave his careful attention; then the younger 
man produced the title-deeds to his family's 
property and insisted that Desroches should 
examine them, but since he had to deal with a 
man who was both trusting and unselfish, and 
was in love into the bargain, the investigation 
was not a long one. This seemed to flatter 
Wilhelm somewhat, so he began to take Des- 
roches' arm when walking with him, offered 
him the use of one of his best pipes, and took him 
to see all his friends in Haguenau. After being 
presented to ten of them, with the usual accom- 
paniment of smoking and much drinking of 
beer, Desroches begged for mercy, and from 
then on he was allowed to spend his evenings 
with his fiancee. 

" A few days later, the two lovers who had sat 
upon the bench beside the promenade were 
made man and wife by the Mayor of Haguenau. 
This worthy functionary must have been 
Burgomaster before the French Revolution, 
and he had often held Emilie in his arms when 



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EMILIE 103 

she was a little child; it may even have been 
that he himself had recorded her birth. The 
day before her marriage he had whispered to 
her: 'Why don't you marry a good German?' 

"Emilie did not seem to be concerned with 
matters of nationality, and the Lieutenant's 
mustache no longer annoyed Wilhelm. At 
first, it must be admitted, there had been a 
decided coolness between the two men, but 
Desroches had made great concessions — Wil- 
helm, a few, for his sister's sake — and Emilie's 
aunt had hovered so effectually over all the 
interviews that there was now perfect agree- 
ment between them, and after the signing of 
the marriage settlements, Wilhelm embraced 
his brother-in-law with a great show of affec- 
tion. Before nine o'clock in the morning 
everything was in order, so the four travelers 
set out for Metz that very day. By six o'clock 
in the evening the coach drew up in front of the 
Dragon at Bitche. 

"The roads in this country of woodland and 
interlacing streams are not easy to travel; there 
is at least one hill for every mile, and the occu- 
pants of the coaches usually get badly shaken 
up. This was probably the reason for the 
young bride's discomfort upon her arrival at 



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the inn. Her aunt and Desroches stayed in the 
room with her, and Wilhelm, who was famished, 
went down to the little dining-room where the 
officers supped at eight o'clock. 

"No one knew of Desroches' arrival this 
time, and the soldiers of the garrison had spent 
their day in the Huspoletden woods. He was 
determined not to leave his wife that evening, 
so he told the landlady not to mention his name 
to a soul. The three of them stood at the win- 
dow watching the troops re-enter the fortress, 
and later, in the twilight, they saw the men in 
undress uniform, lined up before the canteen to 
receive their army bread and goat's-milk cheese. 

"Wilhelm, meanwhile, was trying to pass the 
time away and forget his hunger; he had lit his 
pipe and was lolling near the doorway where he 
could breathe in both the tobacco smoke and 
the smell of the cooking. When the officers 
caught sight of him standing there with his cap 
pulled down to his ears and his blue spectacles 
constantly turned towards the kitchen, they 
concluded that he would be supping with them, 
and were anxious to make his acquaintance; he 
might have come from a distance, perhaps he 
was clever and would tell them amusing stories 
— this would be a great stroke of luck; then, if 



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EMILIE 105 

he proved to be from the neighborhood, and 
likely to sit through the meal in stupid silence, 
they could enjoy poking fun at him. 

"A second lieutenant from the military 
school approached Wilhelm and questioned 
him with exaggerated politeness: 

" 'Good-evening, sir; have you any news of 
Paris?' 

" 'No, have you?' he replied quietly. 

" 'Good Lord, we never leave Bitche. How 
should we know anything?' 

" 'And I never leave my office. ' 

" 'Are you in the Engineers?' 

"This pleasantry, directed at Wilhelm's 
spectacles, delighted the officers. 

" 'I am clerk to a notary.' 

" 'Really! That's extraordinary at your 
age.' 

" 'Do you wish to see my passport?' 

" 'Certainly not.' 

" 'Very well. Now if you tell me that you're 
not simply trying to make a fool of me, I'll 
answer all your questions.' 

"A more serious tone then was adopted, and 
the lieutenant went on: 

" 'I asked you, with the best intentions, 
whether you were in the Engineering Corps, 



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106 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

because you wear spectacles. Don't you know 
that the officers of that arm are the only ones 
who can wear them?' 

" 'And does that prove that I am in the 
army?' 

" 'But to-day everybody's a soldier. You 
aren't twenty-five yet; you must be in the 
army, or perhaps you've got an income of fif- 
teen or twenty thousand francs, or have parents 
who've made sacrifices for you, in which case 
you wouldn't be eating here at this table d'hote. ' 

" 'I don't know,' said Wilhelm, shaking out 
his pipe, 'whether or not you have the right to 
question me like this, but in any case I shall 
answer you explicitly. I have no income, for 
I'm only a notary's clerk, as I told you. I have 
been discharged from the army on account of 
my eyes. I'm nearsighted. ' 

"This declaration was greeted by roars of 
laughter. 

" 'Ah, young man, young man!' cried Cap- 
tain Vallier, slapping him on the shoulder, 
4 You're quite right to make use of the proverb, 
"It's better to be a coward, and keep on 
living!" ' 

"Wilhelm turned crimson. 'I'm not a 
coward, Captain, and I will prove it whenever 



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EMILIE 107 

you like. As to my papers, they are in order 
and if you are a recruiting officer I will show 
them to you. ' 

" 'Enough, enough!' exclaimed some of the 
officers, 'let him alone, Vallier; he's a harmless 
individual with a perfect right to eat here. ' 

" * Yes, of course; well, let's sit down and eat 
our supper. I meant no harm, young man. 
I'm not a surgeon, and this isn't the examining 
room. Just to prove there isn't any ill feeling, 
we'll share a wing of this tough old thing they 
expect us to believe is a chicken. ' 

" 'No, thanks,' said Wilhelm, whose appe- 
tite had vanished, 'one of those trout at the 
other end of the table will be enough for me. ' 
And he motioned to the waiter to bring him 
the plate. 

" 'Are they trout, really?' said the captain, 
watching Wilhelm remove his spectacles. 
'Upon my soul, you've got better sight than I 
have; look here, frankly, you could handle a 
gun as well as the next man . . .but some one's 
interested in you, and you've made use of his 
influence ; quite right, too. You prefer a peace- 
ful existence, and there's no reason why you 
shouldn't. But if I were in your place, it would 
make my blood boil to read in the Army Bul- 



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108 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

letins about young chaps of my age getting 
killed in Germany. Perhaps you aren't 
French?' 

" 'No,* said Wilhelm with an effort which, 
however, brought him great satisfaction, 'I 
was born at Haguenau; I'm not French, I'm 
German.' 

" 'German? But Haguenau is on this side 
of the Rhenish frontier; it's one of the finest 
villages of the French Empire. Lower Rhine 
Province. Look at the map. ' 

" 'I'm from Haguenau, I tell you; ten years 
ago it was a German village. To-day it's a 
French village, but I shall always be German, 
just as you would be French till the day of your 
death if your country ever belonged to Ger- 
many.' 

" 'Those are dangerous things to say, young 
man; be careful.' 

" 'Perhaps it is wrong of me to say them,* 
Wilhelm continued impetuously, 'and undoubt- 
edly my own feelings, since I cannot change 
them, are of the sort that ought to remain un- 
expressed. But, in carrying the matter so far, 
you force me to justify myself at any cost; I do 
not wish to be taken for a coward. And now 
you know the motive which, to my mind, fully 



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EMILIE 109 

warrants my eagerness to make use of a very 
real infirmity, though it would not perhaps 
stand in the way of a man who was anxious to 
defend his country. You see, I do not hate the 
people you are fighting to-day. If it had been 
my misfortune to be obliged to take up arms 
against them, I suppose I too might be helping 
to lay waste German territory by burning vil- 
lages and killing my countrymen — my former 
countrymen, if you perfer it — and who knows, 
who knows? might I not slay some one of my 
own flesh and blood, or some old friend of my 
father's, were he in the ranks of my pretended 
enemies . . . surely, surely it is far better for me 
to busy myself with documents in a notary's 
office at Haguenau. And besides, there has 
been enough shedding of blood in my family; 
my father's — to the last drop, so you see ... ' 

44 'Your father was a soldier?' interrupted 
Captain Vallier. 

" 'My father was a sergeant in the Prussian 
Army; he was engaged for a long time in the 
defense of this territory you are occupying 
to-day, and he was killed in the last attack 
upon the fortress at Bitche. ' 

"Everyone's interest was keenly aroused by 
Wilhelm's last words. A few minutes before, 



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110 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

the general concern had been to refute his non- 
sense about his nationality. 

"•Was it in '93?' 

" 'In '93, on the seventeenth of November. 
My father had left Sirmasen the day before to 
rejoin his company. I know he told my mother 
that, by means of a daring scheme, this fortress 
would be taken without resistance. Twenty- 
four hours later he was brought back to us, 
dead. During the attack that took place that 
night, I afterwards learned, the sword of a 
young soldier had entered his breast, and thus 
fell one of the finest grenadiers of Prince 
Hohenlohe's army. My father had made me 
swear to stay with my mother, but she died of 
grief a fortnight later.' 

" 'But some one's just been telling us that I' 
exclaimed the Major. 

" 'Yes,' said Captain Vallier, 'it's exactly 
the story of the Prussian sergeant killed by 
Desroches. ' 

" 'Desroches!' cried Wilhelm. 'Are you 
speaking of Lieutenant Desroches?' 

" 'Oh, no, no,' replied one of the officers 
hastily, seeing that they were on the brink of 
some terrible revelation. ' The Desroches we're 
speaking of was a light infantryman from this 



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EMILIE 111 

garrison who was killed four years ago, the first 
time he went into action. ' 

" 'Ah, he's dead,' said Wilhelm, wiping the 
perspiration from his forehead. 

"A few minutes later, the officers saluted 
and withdrew. Desroches watched their de- 
parture from the window above; then he came 
down into the dining-room where he found his 
brother-in-law sitting at the long table with his 
head in his hands. 

" 'Well, well, asleep already? I'd like some 
supper. My wife's asleep at last, and I'm 
famished. Let's have a glass of wine. It'll 
put some life into us, and you're going to sit 
and talk to me, aren't you?' 

" 'No, I've got a headache. I think I'll go 
up to my room. By the way, those chaps told 
me a lot of interesting things about the fortress. 
Can't you take me up there to-morrow?' 

" 'Of course I can, my friend. ' 

" 'All right, I'll wake you in the morning.' 

"When Desroches had finished eating, he 
sighed resignedly and went up to Wilhelm's 
room, where a bed had been prepared for him — 
he had to sleep alone until after the religious 
ceremony had been performed. Wilhelm lay 
awake the night through, sometimes weeping 



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112 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

silently, and sometimes glaring furiously at the 
sleeper, who was smiling in his dreams. 

"What we call presentiment is very much 
like the pilot fish that swims ahead of an enor- 
mous, half-blinded whale in order to bring it 
news of jagged rocks and sandy bottoms. We 
go through life so heedlessly, that certain of the 
more careless of our fellow beings would come 
hopelessly to grief without a moment's thought 
for their soul's salvation, if nothing ever ruffled 
the surface of their happiness. Some take 
warning from the raven's flight, others for no 
apparent reason, and yet others there are who, 
upon waking, proceed with the greatest care 
if they have dreamed a sinister dream. All 
that sort of thing is presentiment. 'You are 
going to be in great danger,' says the dream. 
4 Take care ! ' cries the raven. ' Be sad, ' faintly 
murmurs the brain. 

"Desroches had a peculiar dream towards 
the end of the night. He was in a cave beneath 
the earth; a white figure was following him and 
its garments kept brushing against his heels. 
When he turned upon this figure it drew away 
and retired to such a distance that he could 
only see a tiny white spot. Presently this spot 
began to grow; it became luminous, and filled 



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EMILIE 113 

the whole cave with light. Then suddenly it 
went out. A slight noise was heard, and Wil- 
helm entered the room wearing his hat and a 
long blue cloak. 

"Desroches woke up with a start. 'Good 
heavens I Have you been out already this 
morning?' 

" 'You must get up,' replied Wilhelm. 

" 'But will they admit us at the fortress?' 

" 'Certainly. All the soldiers but those on 
guard are out at drill. ' 

" 'Already? . . . Very well; I'll be with you 
in a moment. Just give me time to say good- 
morning to my wife. ' 

" ' She 's quite all right ; I ' ve come from there. 
Don't concern yourself about her. ' 

"Desroches was rather surprised at this 
reply, but he put it down to impatience and 
yielded once more to an authority that he would 
soon be able to shake off. 

"On the way to the fortress, he looked back 
at a window in the inn: 

" 'Emilie is probably asleep.' 

"But the curtain moved, and was drawn 
across the window, and Desroches thought he 
saw some one step back into the centre of the 
room in order to avoid being seen by him. 



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114 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"They gained admittance to the fortress 
without difficulty. A disabled captain, who 
had not supped at the Dragon the evening 
before, was in command of the outpost, and 
Desroches asked for a lantern and proceeded 
with his silent companion on their tour of 
inspection. 

"After stopping at several places of interest 
to which Wilhelm paid small attention, he 
asked, 'Aren't you going to show me the under- 
ground passages?' 

" 'Certainly, if you like, but I assure you it 
will be most unpleasant. The dampness down 
there is terrible. There is gunpowder stored 
under the left wing, and we cannot visit those 
places without a special permit; on the right 
are the water-mains and the raw saltpetre, and 
in the centre the countermines and under- 
ground passages. Do you know what a vault 
is like?' 

" 'Oh, that doesn't matter. I'm curious to 
see where so many disastrous encounters have 
taken place, where you yourself, I am told, 
have been in mortal danger.' 

" 'I'm to be spared nothing,' thought Des- 
roches; then he said: 'All right, come along, 
brother, this passage leads to the postern. ' 



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EMILIE 115 

"The light from the lantern flickered dis- 
mally upon the moldy walls, and its reflection 
was caught here and there by sword blades and 
gun-barrels. 

" 'What weapons are these?' asked Wilhelm. 

" 'They belonged to the Prussians who were 
killed at the last attack; my companions have 
hung them here as trophies. ' 

" 'Then there were several Prussians killed 
here?' 

" 'A great many encountered death where 
these passages meet. ' 

" 'Didn't you kill a sergeant here, a tall 
elderly man with a red mustache? ' 

" ' I did. But haven't I told you that story? ' 

" 'No, you haven't, but last night in the 
dining-room, I learned of this exploit which 
your modesty has kept from us. ' 

" ' What can be the matter, brother ; why are 
you so pale? * 

" 'Don't call me brother, but enemy! Look! 
I am a Prussian. I am the son of the sergeant 
you murdered!' 

" 'Murdered!' 

" 'Or killed; it doesn't matter. There's 
where your sword entered his breast. ' 



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116 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

"Wilhelm threw back his cloak and pointed 
to a tear in his father's green uniform, which 
he had reverently kept and was now wearing. 

" 'You — the son of that sergeant! For 
God's sake tell me you're only joking!' 

" 'Joking? Does one make jokes about a 
foul deed like that? . . . Here, my father was 
killed; his noble blood reddened these stones 
. . . perhaps this was his very sword ! . . .Take 
down another of them, and give me my re- 
venge! . . . Come, this is not a duel; a German 
is fighting a Frenchman! En Garde! 9 

" 'But, my dear Wilhelm, this is madness 1 
Put away that rusty sword. Do you wish to 
kill me if I am blameless?' 

" 'And if you live you will have my blood 
as well as his. Come, defend yourself!' 

" 'Wilhelm! Kill me as I am, unarmed; I 
too am going mad. My head's spinning. Wil- 
helm! I did what every soldier must do. 
Think, think! . . . And besides, I am your sis- 
ter's husband; she loves me. Oh, no! It's 
impossible!' 

" 'My sister! . . . Yes, and there you have 
the reason why both of us cannot remain alive 
on this earth! She knows everything, and will 



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EMILIE 117 

never again see the man who made her an 
orphan. Your parting from her yesterday was 
final.' 

" Desroches uttered a cry of rage, and rushed 
at Wilhelm to disarm him; the struggle was a 
prolonged one, for the younger man's strength 
was born of desperation, and a bitter hatred 
which had at last found its object. 

" 'Give me that sword, you fiend; give it to 
me!' cried Desroches. 'I will not die at the 
hands of a madman ! ' 

" 'That's how it is,' Wilhelm retorted in a 
stifled voice, 'kill the son where you killed the 
father; and the son is a German, too ... a 
German I' 

"At that moment footsteps were heard, and 
Desroches relinquished his efforts. Wilhelm 
was at the end of his strength. 

"Those footsteps were mine, gentlemen. 
Emilie had come to the presbytery and had 
told me everything, in order to put herself 
under the protection of the church. I kept 
back the words of pity that rose to my lips, 
and when the poor child asked me whether she 
might continue to love her father's murderer, 
I was silent. When she took my hand and said 
good-by, there were tears in her eyes, and I 



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118 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

knew that she understood. Then an idea of 
what might be happening entered my mind, 
and I followed her to the inn, where she was 
told that her brother and husband had gone 
together to the fortress. I hurried off after 
them, fully convinced of the horrible truth, 
and fortunately I arrived in time to prevent 
these two men, maddened by rage and grief, 
from enacting a further tragedy. 

"Although disarmed, Wilhelm remained 
unmoved by the pleadings of Desroches; he 
was beaten, but the full force of his anger still 
blazed in his eyes. I reproached him with his 
obstinacy : ' It is you, ' I said, * who are causing 
the dead to cry for vengeance, and you alone 
would be the cause of this dreadful thing. 
Aren't you a Christian? Do you wish to divert 
the course of Divine Justice? Are you pre- 
pared to go through life with a murder on your 
conscience? There will be atonement for the 
other deed, be assured of that, but it is not for 
us to force it!' 

"Desroches took my hand and said: 'Emilie 
knows everything; I will never see her again, 
and I know what I must do to give her back 
her freedom.' 



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EMILIE 119 

" 'What are you saying?' I cried; 'do you 
mean suicide?' 

"At this word, Wilhelm grasped Desroches' 
hand. 

" 'No,' he said, 'I am the only offender. I 
should have borne my suffering in silence. ' 

"I will not attempt to describe the agony 
we went through on that tragic morning; I 
used every argument that my religion and my 
philosophy suggested, but my efforts to pro- 
vide an acceptable way out of that cruel situa- 
tion were of no avail; a separation was inev- 
itable in all cases, but what grounds for this 
could be stated in court? Not only would the 
case be a most painful one for all concerned, 
but there was a political danger in allowing the 
wretched business to be known. 

"I devoted myself to the task of defeating 
Desroches' sinister intentions, and endeavored 
to create in his mind a religious antipathy to 
the crime of suicide. You see, the poor fellow 
had been brought up on eighteenth century 
materialism. Since his wound, however, his 
ideas had changed greatly, and he had become 
one of those half-skeptical Christians — we have 
so many of them — who have concluded that a 



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120 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

little religion can do no harm after all, and who 
will make the concession of consulting a priest 
in case there may be a God. It was an unde- 
fined belief such as this that enabled him to 
listen to my comforting words. 

"Some days passed; Wilhelm and his sister 
remained at the inn, for Emilie's health had 
not withstood the shock she had received. 
Desroches was with me at the presbytery, 
where he spent his days in reading the religious 
books I had put at his disposal. One day he 
went alone to the fortress and spent several 
hours there; on his return he showed me a 
sheet of paper with his name upon it: a cap- 
tain's commission in a regiment on the point of 
departure to rejoin the Partouneaux division. 

"In about a month we received the news of 
his heroic death, and whatever may have been 
the mad impulse that sent him into the thick 
of the fighting, one felt that his bravery had 
been a splendid example to the whole battalion, 
which had sustained heavy losses in the first 
charge." 

The narrative was at an end and the listeners 
remained silent, their minds absorbed by what 
they had heard of the life and the death of this 
man Then the priest rose from his seat: 



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EMILIE 121 

" If you have no objection to a change in the 
direction of our evening walk, gentlemen, we 
can follow that line of poplars, glowing in the 
last rays of the sun, and I will take you to the 
Butte-aux-Lierres. From there we can see the 
cross of the convent within whose walls 
Madame Desroches sought refuge. " 



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Digitized by VjOOQLC 



OCTAVIE 

OR 

THE ILLUSION 



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OCTAVIE 

IN THE spring of 1835, a keen desire to see 
Italy took possession of me. Every morn- 
ing upon waking I imagined myself breath- 
ing in the sharp fragrance of Alpine chestnut 
trees; at evening, the cascade at Terni and the 
foaming source of the Teverone gushed forth 
for me only, as I sat facing the shabby stage of 
a little theatre. . . . Sweet siren voices mur- 
mured in my ears, and it seemed to me that 
the rushes of Trasimene were speaking. . . . 
There was nothing for it, so I left Paris to 
search for distraction from a frustrated love. 
I broke my journey at Marseille, and each 
morning I went down to the Chdteau Vert to 
bathe in the sea and watch the little laughing 
islands far out in the gulf. A young English 
girl was my companion by those shores, and 
we swam together, her slender body cutting 
the green waters. This daughter of the sea, 
who was called Octavie, came triumphantly to 
meet me one morning, filled with pride at a 
125 



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126 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

strange catch she had made. In her white 
hands she held a fish, and she gave it to me. 
I could not help smiling at such a gift. 

However, I resolved to continue my journey, 
and I went by land, for there was cholera about 
and I wished to avoid being quarantined. I 
saw Nice, Genoa and Florence; I was filled with 
admiration for the Duomo, the Baptistry, the 
masterpieces of Michael-Angelo, and Pisa's 
leaning tower and Camp Santo. Then I 
journeyed to Rome, by way of Spoleto, and 
there for ten days I gazed upon Saint Peter's 
dome, the Vatican and the Coliseum, as though 
in a dream. Then on to Civita-Vecchia by 
post-stage to take ship again. For three days 
the fury of the sea prevented the arrival of my 
steamer, and once while wandering sadly along 
the desolate shore, I barely escaped being 
attacked by dogs. The day before my depart- 
ure, a French vaudeville performance was given 
at one of the theatres, and I noticed at once 
the light hair and vivacious manner of Octavie. 
She was sitting in a stage-box with her father, 
who seemed very feeble — his doctors had rec- 
ommended the climate of Naples. 

The next morning I set out joyfully for the 
quai, bought my passage and found Octavie 



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OCTAVIE 127 

pacing the deck with long strides and digging 
her little white teeth into the skin of a lemon 
to show her impatience at the intolerable delay. 

"Poor child," I said, "your lungs are weak, 
I'm sure of it, and that is not good for you. " 

She looked at me fixedly and asked, "Who 
told you that?" 

"The Tiburtine sibyl," I replied solemnly. 

"Oh, come now, I don't believe a word you 
say I " As she spoke, she looked at me tenderly, 
and I could not help kissing her hand. "If I 
were cleverer, I would teach you how to He I" 
And she laughingly shook her little gold-headed 
cane in my face. 

We crossed the bay of Naples, between 
Ischia and Nisida glowing in the sun, and as 
we drew near the quai, she said: "If you love 
me, you will wait for me to-morrow at Portici, 
and, you know, I'm not in the habit of making 
engagements like that. " 

She went with her father to the new Hotel 
de Rome on the place du Mole near the quai, 
and I took lodgings behind the Thidtre des 
Florerdins. My day was spent in sauntering 
about the square, up and down the rue de 
Tolkde, and in visiting the Musee des filudes. 
In the evening I went to the ballet at San 



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128 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

Carlo, where I met the Marquis Gargallo, a 
Paris acquaintance, and after the performance 
we went together to have tea with his sisters. 

I shall never forget the charming evening 
that followed; the Marquise received her 
guests — mostly foreigners — in a lofty reception 
room; people talked a little like the Pr&ieuses, 
and I imagined myself in the blue room at 
Rambouillet. The sisters of the Marquise were 
as beautiful as the Graces, and I felt the 
enchantment of ancient Greece. Then fol- 
lowed a long discussion upon the shape of the 
Eleusinian Stone — was it triangular or square? 
— and the Marquise might have pronounced 
the final judgment, for she had the beauty and 
the nobility of Vesta. When I left the palace, 
my head was so dizzy with philosophical 
phrases, that I was unable to discover my 
lodgings, and, being thus obliged to wander 
about the city, I was destined to be the hero of 
an adventure of some kind. That evening's 
encounter is the subject of the following letter, 
written some years afterwards, to her from 
whom I had believed I could escape by leaving 
Paris: 

"To live through four days without seeing 
you for a moment alone has been a terrible 



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OCTAVIE 129 

suspense, and my mind is filled with grievous 
apprehension. I believe in your sincerity, but 
I feel there has been a change in you lately. 
In Heaven's name put an end to my doubts, 
unless you wish some misfortune to befall us. 
You see it is I who have been at fault. I was 
timid, for no man could allow such devotion 
as mine to become apparent. I put such re- 
straint upon my love — so great was my fear of 
offending a second time — that I was perhaps 
too careful and you may have misconstrued my 
coolness. It was a day when you were in great 
difficulty, so I controlled the tumult of emo- 
tions within me, and put on a mask of smiles 
to hide the consuming fires of. my passion. 
Others have been less careful, but none of them 
has shown such true affection for you, or so 
completely understood all that you hold worth 
while. 

"Let us be frank with each other: I know 
that every woman has ties which can only be 
broken with difficulty, troublesome relation- 
ships that take time to bring to an end. Have 
I asked you to sacrifice too muchP Tell me 
what it is that troubles you; I promise you my 
sympathy. Your fears, your caprices, and the 
requirements of your position could never 



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130 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

lessen my affection for you, nor stain the purity 
of my love. Together we shall see what prob- 
lems there are to be met, and you can count 
upon me if there are any knots that may not 
be untied, but must be cut. It would be cruel 
not to be frank with me now, when I have told 
you that my life is yours. You cannot help 
knowing that my greatest desire is to die for 
you. 

"To die! Good God! Why does this idea 
present itself at every turn, as though death 
were as much to be desired as the happiness 
you promise me? Death! And yet the word 
does not fill my mind with melancholy 
thoughts. I have seen her after a banquet, 
wearing a crown of pale roses; I have dreamed 
that she was standing with a smile upon her 
face, at the bedside of some adored woman, 
after the raptures and the madness of love 
were ended, and that she said to me: 

" 'Now, Young Man, you have had your 
share of this world's delights. Come and sleep 
in my arms. I am not beautiful, but I am kind 
and you have need of my help. I cannot give 
you the pleasures of love, but everlasting peace/ 

"But where had this vision already appeared 
to me? Ah, yes, it was at Naples, as I told you,, 



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OCTAVIE 131 

three years ago. I met her at night near the 
Villa Reale; she was young and amazingly like 
you, and she earned her living by doing em- 
broidery for the Church. We walked towards 
her lodging, and I saw that she was very un- 
happy, though she mentioned having a lover 
in the Swiss Guards. He might come to see 
her that very night . . . but I soon discovered 
that I attracted her more than he did. What 
shall I say to you? It pleased my fancy that 
night to forget myself, and to imagine that she, 
whose language I could scarcely understand, 
was yourself— that some magic power had 
brought you to me. Why should I conceal this 
experience from you and the illusion that so 
easily took possession of me, especially after 
several glasses of Lacrima Christi? The room 
where she lived had something mystical about 
it; perhaps it was only a chance atmosphere; or 
was it produced by the singular furnishings? 
A black Madonna, covered with tinsel, stood 
upon a chest of drawers by a bed with green 
twill curtains — my hostess had been entrusted 
with the task of restoring the figure's ancient 
attire. In another part of the room, a statue 
of Saint Rosalie, crowned with purple roses, 
seemed to be watching over a cradle containing 



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132 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

a sleeping infant. Upon the whitewashed 
walls hung some old pictures of mythological 
divinities representing the four elements: 
everywhere a brilliant confusion of colored 
stuffs, artificial flowers, Etruscan vases, and 
tinsel-framed mirrors gleaming with the re- 
flection of a large copper lamp. Upon a table 
I saw a treatise on Divination and Dreams 
which made me think that perhaps my com- 
panion was a sorceress, or at least a gipsy. 

"An old woman with a big solemn face, who 
must have been her mother, waited upon us, 
and I sat gazing in thoughtful silence at her 
whose features completely reminded me of 
yours. 

" 'Something is troubling you?' she kept 
asking me. 

"'Don't talk to me,' I replied, 'for I can 
scarcely understand you; it tires me to carry 
on a conversation in Italian. ' 

" ' Oh, I don't have to talk Italian, ' she said, 
and suddenly I found myself listening to a 
language I had never heard before, full of 
sounds that were resonant and guttural, and 
interspersed with charming little bird^notes — 
a primitive language without doubt — perhaps 
Hebrew, perhaps Syriac, I could not tell. She 



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OCTAVIE 133 

smiled at my astonishment, and took from the 
chest some bracelets, necklaces, and a crown, 
which were set with imitation jewels; then she 
put these on, and came back to the table, where 
she sat for a long time without speaking. When 
the old woman returned and saw her like this, 
she burst out laughing, and told me, I think, 
that she attended festivals in this attire. Then 
the infant began to cry, whereat both women 
ran to the cradle, but the younger one soon 
came back to me, carrying the pacified bambino 
proudly in her arms. 

44 In that delightful unknown tongue, she 
coaxed and charmed the infant to silence, 
whilst I, little used to the potent wines of Vesu- 
vius, stood watching the objects in the room 
float past me. With her strange mannerisms, 
her regal adornment, her pride and her whim- 
sicality, she made me think of one of those 
Thessalian enchantresses who offer dreams in 
return for souls. Oh, why am I not afraid to 
speak to you of this? ... It is because you 
must know that it too was a dream, a dream 
evoked by you, and you alone. 

"I fled from this apparition, at once alluring 
and terrifying, and wandered through empty 
streets until the early church-bells began to 



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134 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

ring. Then I left the city, following a succes- 
sion of narrow alleys back of Chiaia, and pro- 
ceeded to climb the Posilipo Hills above the 
grotto. From these heights I looked out across 
the sea, already blue, and down into the city, 
barely stirring from its slumbers. The sun 
was just beginning to gild the tops of the villas 
on the islands in the bay. Sorrow was far from 
my thoughts then, and I walked rapidly with 
long steps; I lay down and rolled in the dewy 
grass, but the idea of Death was in my heart. 
"Oh, God! what misery it was, what torture 
to know that one was not loved ! I had seen the 
ghost of happiness; I had made use of every 
divine gift. Nature's most splendid spectacle 
was spread out before me, beneath a sky of 
incomparable beauty, but I was four hundred 
leagues from the one woman in the world, and 
my existence was nothing to her. Not to be 
loved, and to have no hope of ever being loved: 
that was what tempted me to go and stand 
before God, and to ask why He had condemned 
me to this lonely life. Only one step was neces- 
sary from the spot where I stood, at the edge 
of the cliff — I heard the murmur of the clear 
blue waters below me — there would be only a 
moment of pain. A terrible dizziness followed; 



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OCTAVIE 135 

twice an unknown power frustrated my at- 
tempts to throw myself over the edge, and I 
fell back each time clutching wildly at the 
earth. Ah, no! Thou didst not create me to 
suffer all the days of my life, and I will not 
outrage Thee by my death. But grant that I 
may acquire the resolution by which some gain 
Power, others Fame, and yet others, Love. " 

Towards the end of that fantastic night, a 
rare phenomenon occurred. The heavens were 
illuminated, and a hot sulphurous dust came 
in at the windows. I could scarcely breathe, 
and, leaving the companion who had yielded 
to my will, asleep upon the balcony, I set out 
in the direction of the Castel Sant' Elmo. 
Dawn found me climbing the mountain, and 
breathing deeply of the pure morning air. Then 
I lay down to rest in the pleasant shelter of a 
vine-arbor, and to gaze without alarm at 
Vesuvius beneath its canopy of smoke. 

Then came the dizziness of which I have 
spoken, but the thought of the rendezvous I 
had with the young English girl prevented me 
from carrying out my fatal intentions. After 
the cooling refreshment of an enormous bunch 
of grapes purchased from a market-woman, I 



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136 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

started for Portici, and went to see the ruins of 
Herculaneum. The streets were powdered 
with metallic ashes, and I descended into the 
subterranean city; there I wandered from house 
to house, asking of each the secret of its past. 
The temples of Venus and Mercury would have 
stirred my imagination, had they been peopled 
with figures that lived and moved ... At 
Portici I sat down thoughtfully beneath an 
arbor to wait for my new friend, and before 
very long she appeared, guiding her father's 
feeble steps. She grasped my hand firmly, 
and said: 

" I'm glad you've come. " 

We took a carriage to Pompeii, and what a 
delight it was to lead her through the silent 
streets of that ancient Roman colony! I had 
made myself familiar with its most secret pas- 
sages. When we came to the little temple of 
Isis, my readings from Apuleius enabled me to 
give her a faithful account of the rites and cere- 
monies of the cult. Then it took her fancy to 
play the part of the Goddess, and I undertook 
the role of Osiris and the elucidation of the 
Divine Mysteries. 

On the way back, my mood, produced by the 
exalted thoughts with which our minds had 



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OCTAVIE 137 

been occupied, made it impossible for me to 
speak to her of love, and my detachment was 
so marked that she reproached me with it. 
So I confessed that I felt myself to be no longer 
worthy of her, and told her of the strange appa- 
rition which had rekindled an old love in my 
heart, and of the distress thaf came after that 
fateful night when the ghost of happiness had 
appeared to remind me of a broken pledge. 

Alas ! How far away it all seems ! Ten years 
ago I passed through Naples on my return from 
the Orient, and found that Octavie was still at 
the Hdtel de Rome; she was married to a famous 
painter, who had been stricken with total par- 
alysis soon after the wedding. He was still 
young, and without hope of ever being cured: 
a motionless figure upon a bed, lifeless but for 
two large restless black eyes. The poor girl's 
existence was entirely devoted to the care of 
her husband and her father, but all her 
sweetness and candor had not calmed the 
sick man's morbid jealousy, and nothing would 
induce him to allow her any freedom. He 
reminded me of the black giant who watches 
unceasingly in the Cave of the Spirits, and 
whose wife must beat him lest he fall asleep. 
Ah! the mystery of human life! That one 



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138 DAUGHTERS OF FIRE 

should find here the cruel traces of the ven- 
geance of the gods! 

I had only a day in which to contemplate 
this sorrow. When I took ship for Marseille, 
her sweet memory haunted me, and I felt 
that I had turned my back upon happiness. 
Octavie kept the secret of it. 

THE END 



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A SELECTED LIST 
IN BELLES-LETTRES 



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Hermann Bahr 

THE MASTER. A drama in three acts. Adapted for the 
American stage by Benjamin F. Glazer. Cloth, $1.00. 

John Lloyd Balderston 

THE GENIUS OF THE MARNE. A play in three scenes 
with an introduction by George Moore. Boards, $1.80. 

Mitchell S. Buck 

EPHEMERA. Hellenic prose poems. Printed on Japan 
paper, and bound in half- vellum. Gilt top. Edition lim- 
ited to 750 copies. $3.00. 

THE SONGS OF PHRYNE. All that is known of Phryne's 
life and career is told in these twenty-nine songs. 
Printed on Alexandra antique laid paper, with cover de- 
sign in four colors. 90c. 

BOOK REPAIR AND RESTORATION. A manual of 
practical suggestions for Bibliophiles. With 17 illustra- 
tions. Edition limited to 1,000 copies. $2.25. 

Donald Evans 

IRONIGA. Mr. Evans has written these poems with a new 
dignity and a true maturity. Mist gray boards, $1.20. 

SONNETS FROM THE PATAGONIAN. This book 
opened the Modernists' war against musty literary tradi- 
tions. Printed on Japan paper. Edition limited to 750 
copies. Toyogami boards, $1.80. 

TWO DEATHS IN THE BRONX. A series of pitiless 
photographs of profligate men and women who fritter 
away life, seeking new pleasures, new sensations. 
Boards, $1.20. 

NINE POEMS FROM A VALETUDINARIUM. The 
arch-attitudinist suddenly becomes grave and simple and 
writes in a mood of supreme reverence. Boards, $1.00. 



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DISCORDS. The sixty or more poems that make ud the 
volume offer vivid glimpses of the stress and strain of 
modern life. Boards, $1.20. 

John Gould Fletcher 

PAUL GAUGUIN: HIS LIFE AND ART. A keen and 
authoritative interpretation of the life and art of the 
great French painter, indispensable to all who are inter- 
ested in modern art. With ten halftone illustrations. 
Boards, $2.00. 

Paul Gauguin 

NOA NOA. Translated by O. F. Theis. The great French 
painter's own story of his flight from civilization and his 
life among the natives of Tahiti, in the South Seas. With 
ten reproductions from paintings of Gauguin, in half- 
tone. Boards, $2.00. 

Alfred Kreymborg 

BLOOD OF THINGS. A second book of Free Forms. 
More than a hundred new poems in every mood and 
every form. Greater in every way, broader in its con- 
tacts, deeper in its emotional reactions, richer in its ex- 
quisite artistry, and therefore destined to be even more 
popular. Boards, $2.00. 

OTHERS FOR 1919. An Anthology of the New Verse. 
Edited by Alfred Kreymborg. Others for 1919 contains 
the best work of twenty-six of our most distinguished 
poets. The book affords ample demonstration of the 
truth that America is as polyglot in her poetry as she 
is as a nation. Boards, $2.00. 

Ernest Lacy 

PLAYS AND SONNETS. Two volumes. Vol. I: The 
Bard of Mary Redcliffe, a play in five acts. Vol. II: 
Rinaldo, the Doctor of Florence, a play in five acts. 
Chatterton, a one-act play. Sonnets. With seven etch- 
ings, cloth, $3.50 the set. Memorial one-volume edition, 
with portrait of author. Cloth, $2.25. 



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Dmitri Merejkovski 

THE MENACE OF THE MOB. Translated from the Rus- 
sian by B. Guilbert Guerney. In the present volume, it 
is not the novelist who speaks, but the philosopher and 
God-seeker. The essays describe the spiritual ferment 
and crisis through which Russia was passing, and of 
which the present turmoil is the harvest. Will it be a 
good harvest or an evil to the human race that is to come? 
This is one of the problems that occupy the author, and 
what he has to say is more important and illuminating 
than thousands of editorials and leading articles. 
Boards, $1.50. 

Arne Norrevang 

THE WOMAN AND THE FIDDLER. A play in three 
acts. Translated from the Norwegian by Mrs. Herman 
Sandby. Cloth, $1.00. 

Stanislaw Przybyszewski 

SNOW. A play in four acts by one of the foremost writers 
of modern Europe. Boards, $1.50. 

Pitts Sanborn 

VIE DE BORDEAUX. A volume of poems in English. 
In free verse the author has interpreted the soul of old 
Bordeaux in the hour of war. Boards, $1.20. 

Evelyn Scott 

PRECIPITATIONS. A volume of poems, containing the 
best and most characteristic of an author whose name 
is coining more and more to the front among contem- 
porary poets. There is a dominating passion of seeking 
the essence of things, and at times the way in which 
she tears away the discreet and sentimental investitures 
seems almost heartless. There is flesh and blood in her 
work, because each thing she tests out by herself. 
Boards, $1.50. 

August Strindberg 

FROREN JULIE (Countess Julia). Translated from the 
Swedish. A naturalistic tragedy. Cloth, $1.00. 



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MOTHERLOVE. One of Strindberg's most effective one- 
act plays. Second edition. Boards, 35c. 

SWANWHITE. A fairy drama, translated by Francis J. 
Ziegler. Second edition. Cloth, $1.00. 

THE CREDITOR. A tragic comedy. A searching psycho- 
logical study of the divorce question. Cloth, $1.00. 

John Addington Symonds 

LAST AND FIRST. The first appearance in book form of 
"The New Spirit" and "Arthur Hugh Clouffh," the 
latest and the earliest essays of a great critic and human- 
ist. Cloth, $1.50. 

Grover Theis 

NUMBERS. Five one-act plays that will be welcomed by 
the lover of modern drama. Boards, $1.35. 

Leo N. Tolstoi 

THE LIVING CORPSE. Translated by Anna Monosso- 
vitch Evarts, from the only authorized Russian edition 
based on the MSS. in the possession of Countess A. L. 
Tolstoi. A drama in six acts and twelve tableaux. Pro- 
duced as "Redemption" it has been one of the greatest 
successes on the New York stage in recent years. Cloth, 
$1.00. 

John Varney 

SKETCHES OF SOVIET RUSSIA. Whole Cloth and 
Patches. An unusual book by an American who spent 
a good part of the turbulent years of 1918 and 1919 in 
Russia. The author's method of approach is neither 
one of condemnation nor of praise. This is especially 
true of the imaginary dialogue which closes the book. 
Here the different political doctrines which have torn 
Russia asunder are analyzed and opposed to each other 
with fine dramatic skill. Anyone interested in modern 
Russia and her problems, which are also a world prob- 
lem, will find this a valuable and instructive volume. 
Cloth, $2.25. 



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Frank Wedddnd 

THE AWAKENING OF SPRING. A tragedy of child- 
hood dealing with the sex question in its relationship to 
the education of the young. Sixth edition. Cloth, $1.50. 

SUCH IS LIFE. A satiric play with mediaeval background 
but modern significance. Second edition. Cloth, $1.25. 

RABBI EZRA AND THE VICTIM. Two impressive 
sketches full of color and action. Boards, 35c. 

THE GRISLEY SUITOR. A remarkable study in grim 
humor. Boards, 35c. 

Emile Zola 

FOR A NIGHT. A novelette translated by Alison M. Le- 
derer. A gripping story of abnormality, together with 
two characteristic sketches, The Maid of the Dawber 
and Complements. Cloth, $1.25. 



HISTORICAL MINIATURES 
A Scries of Monographs Edited by Dr. F. L. Glaser 

SCENES FROM THE COURT OF PETER THE 
GREAT. Based on the Latin Diary of Korb, a Secre- 
tary of the Austrian Legation at the Court of Peter the 
Great. This is a vivid description of the life in Moscow 
toward the end of the 17th Century when, under the 
impetus of Peter the Great, Russia was finding itself. 
One of the most thrilling portions of the book is the de- 
scription of the rebellion and punishment of the Stryelitz, 
the Russian guard of the period. Cloth, $2.00. 

POPE ALEXANDER VI AND HIS COURT. Based on 
the Diary of Johannes Burchardus, Master of Ceremo- 
nies to Alexander VI. The spirit of the Renaissance at its 
height fills the volume, and we are given an intimate and 
vivid portrait of the life at Rome as it was lived under 
the great Borgia. Cloth, $2.00. 

// your bookseller cannot supply the volume desired write 
to the publisher. Complete list on request. 



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